On food romance, Italian zabaione, citrus, vanilla and pain d’epices

February 12th, 2011 § 1 comment

Personal taste is a funny thing. While la gourmande’s idea of food romance lies in a plate of Linguine a la Vongole, it is spareribs that will rhyme with sexiness in the ears of her dutchie!

Citrus and vanilla zabaione with toasted gingerbread

Hence a couple of weeks ago… I was convinced I had put together THE dessert that would forever incarnate ultimate sexiness in our household:

A slightly caramelized citrus compote infused with vanilla, on top of an airy and creamy citrus and white wine Zabaione (a delicate custard style cream made of whipped egg yolks and wine, liquor or juice – aka sabayon in French), served slighty warm with super thin slices of freshly toasted gingerbread… Mmmmm.

Citrus and vanilla zabaione with toasted gingerbread

The warm sexy colors, the spicy fragrance, the creaminess, the juiciness, the bite… There was definitely more than sparkles in the eyes of our guests for dessert that evening, but then, Dutchie had a taste and frowned… pink grapefruit? not his thing.

Too bad. But well, we will always have Tarte Tatin… and who knows, one day, this sexy dessert might become someone’s else idea of food romance.


Citrus and vanilla Zabaione,
Sabayon aux agrumes et a la vanille

serves 4 pers.
prep: 30 min. cook: 10 + 8 min

4 thin slices of gingerbread;
~ For the citrus compote:
1 pink grapefruit, 1 orange, 1 blood orange, 1 lemon, 2 clementines;
2 Tsp sugar;
1 tsp honey;
20 g butter;
1/2 vanilla pod;
freshly ground pepper;

~ For the zabaione:
50 cl citrus juice (I used the juices I collected from peeling the fruits for the compote + the juice of 1/2 lemon);
50 cl white wine;
3 egg yolks;
40 g sugar;
1/2 vanilla pod;

~ Prepare the compote:
Rinse and peel the citrus fruits, preferably over a bowl to collect the juices: cut the ends and peel off the skin and white membrane, carving from top to bottom with a sharp knife, following the curve of the fruit. Slice in thin slices (~1/2 cm). Reserve the collected juices for the zabaoine

In a wide pan, melt the sugar, honey and butter on high heat. Add grated seeds of the vanilla pod and the (drained) citrus slices. Toss to coat. Distribute in an even layer, and pan fry on medium heat turning the slices from time to time, for about 10 minutes, or until the citrus slices are starting to caramelize yet still holding their shape and structure. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Reserve until plating.

~ Prepare the zabaione:
Prepare a bain marie on the stove*. Mix the white wine, citrus juice, and greated vanilla seeds together. Warm up slightly. Reserve.

Whisk the eggs, sugar and salt until pale and fluffy. Pour half of the liquids in the egg mixture. Whisk to incorporate.
Transfer the mixture to a pan and set on the bain marie*. Pour the rest of the liquids and whisk constantly for 5 to 8 minutes until the mixture thickens into an airy custard. Remove from the heat or if prepared in advance, set aside to cool and reserve covered and refrigerated until use.

~ Plating:

About 10 minutes before service. Warm up the citrus compote on low heat, and the Zabaione au bain marie*. Toast the thin slices of gingerbread.
You can dress the dessert in individual dessert plates/bowls or in sexy glasses: First a layer Zabaione, then the compote. Decorate with soldiers of toasted gingerbread. Serve immediately.
Bon appétit!

* “Au bain marie” is a french cooking term meaning hot water bath: Put the pan or baking dish in a larger one, partly filled with hot or boiling water over low heat on the stove or in the oven. It’s often used to melt chocolate, bake terrines, mousses or creme brulees.


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