Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching and the Italians surely know how to celebrate the day romantically. La Festa di San Valentino is reserved solely for couples in Italy, a day to show that special someone in your life how much you love them. If you are like me going to a restaurant on Valentine’s day is out of the question, but that’s a topic for another post; I much prefer a quiet dinner at home with Mio Marito. A special meal is always planned along with something sparkling (no assumptions please as to who will be wearing the apron). What is the iconic dolce associated with San Valentino, well something chocolate of course. Bittersweet Chocolate Zabaglione is the perfect dessert for two and trust me it requires no special culinary skills. With only a few basic ingredients and a little patience, Bittersweet Chocolate Zabaglione will surely impress your loved one.
Zabaglione is an iconic egg custard which starts with golden egg yolks, a bit of sugar and sweet Marsala wine. There are several tales attesting to the origin of zabaglione, one from 17th century Torino when a chef inadvertently added some fortified sweet wine to a custard. The proportions are generally one egg yolk, one tablespoon of sugar, and two tablespoons of Marsala. The custard is cooked over a double boiler while whisked until the mixture has incorporated air rendering it light golden in color and foamy – in a word, ethereal.
Bittersweet Chocolate Zabaglione is somewhat of a twist on the classic Zabaglione. The addition of melted bittersweet chocolate renders the custard almost mouse like in its texture. The amount of Marsala is reduced to bring only a perfume of the wine to the Zabaglione, not to compete with the chocolate.
Dark, slightly bitter Amareno cherries preserved in syrup are utterly amazing with chocolate. A few at the bottom of a martini style glass topped with Zabaglione is heavenly. My absolute favorite brand is Fabbri, which is widely available and comes in those lovely white & blue jars.
So go ahead, plan a special dinner for the one you love. A simple but elegant three course meal ending in Bittersweet Chocolate Zabaglione will be nothing less than spectacular.
Buon San Valentino
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- 5 large egg yolks
- 5 Tbs. granulated sugar
- 4 ounces of high quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup Sweet Marsala
- 8 Amareno Cherries, preferably Fabbri brand
- Have 2 serving glasses ready to present the zabaglione.
- Place most of the chopped bittersweet chocolate into a glass or ceramic bowl, reserving a bit of the fine chocolate dust to garnish the finished dessert. Add the heavy cream and set the bowl over a pot of gently simmering water. Stir the mixture frequently to insure that the chocolate melts and the mixture is uniformly combined. Set aside.
- Have a second pot of water set on the heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Place the egg yolks in bowl that fits over the pot, but be sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the simmering water. Using a whisk or hand held electric mixer beat the egg yolks until they just begin to become foamy. Continue to beat while adding the granulated sugar a tablespoon at a time, the egg yolks will continue to expand and become quite creamy. Be certain to use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl throughout this process. Add the Marsala and continue to beat until thick and voluminous. The entire process should take about 4 to 8 minutes depending upon how vigorously you whisk; using a hand held mixer is much easier. Remove from the heat.
- Take about ½ cup of the egg mixture and and fold it into the melted chocolate, be sure that it is well combined. Repeat with a second ½ cup of the egg mixture.
- Add the adjusted chocolate mixture to the thick & sweetened egg yolks and fold until no trace of the golden color appears.
- Place 3 of the Amerana cherries at the bottom of each of the serving glasses. Spoon the warm zabaglione over the cherries. Place an additional cherry on the top of the custard and dust with the remaining fine bittersweet chocolate.
- I prefer to enjoy Bittersweet Chocolate Zabaglione when it is prepared, however this dish can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for several hours. The refrigerated version is more mouse like and also wonderful.