Make a frozen dessert treat that does not need churning: sabayon with berries

Make a non-alcoholic version by substituting sparkling cider for the wine. PHOTO: DEB LINDSEY
Make a non-alcoholic version by substituting sparkling cider for the wine. PHOTO: DEB LINDSEY

(WASHINGTON POST) - Although no one seems to mind eating the results, for some reason I get a lot of complaints from readers about the noise that ice cream makers make when churning ice cream.

For one thing, I don't make the machines. But I sure do push them.

And another is that I'm not sure why people expect ice cream makers to go about their business silently, while blenders, stand mixers, espresso makers and vacuum cleaners get a pass. I will admit, though, that the noise from the latter is my excuse for not vacuuming as frequently as I should.

Yet the racket from my ice cream machine has never deterred me from using it, as often as I can, churning up ice creams and sorbets whenever the mood strikes. The noise doesn't bother me in the least.

Who am I to criticise others? Especially when I'm pushing myself through a thicket of dust bunnies to get to my ice cream maker on an almost-daily basis? It's all a matter of priorities.

  • FROZEN SABAYON WITH FRESH BERRY COMPOTE

  • INGREDIENTS

    For the sabayon:
    6 large egg yolks
    ¾ cup prosecco or other sparkling wine
    ½ cup sugar
    1 cup chilled heavy cream

    For the compote: 
    2½ cups fresh blueberries
    2½ cups fresh raspberries
    2 cups hulled, sliced or quartered fresh strawberries
    5 tsps sugar

     
  • METHOD

    For the sabayon:

    1. Fill a large bowl with ice and water for cooling down the sabayon.

    2. Whisk together the egg yolks and prosecco in a large, heatproof bowl.

    3. Mix in the sugar, then set the bowl over a wide saucepan partially filled with barely bubbling water (medium or medium-low heat).

    4. Whisk the mixture vigorously, and continuously, until it’s thickened and holds its shape when you lift the whisk and let some of the sabayon fall back onto the surface; this can take at least 5 minutes. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and seat it in the ice-water bath. Stir the mixture gently, using folding motions with a flexible spatula, until cool.

    5. Beat the heavy cream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a balloon-whisk attachment, or by hand, until stiff, but not grainy.

    6. Fold the whipped cream into the sabayon just until no streaks of white are visible. Transfer the mixture into a freezer-safe container and freeze for at least four hours, or until firm enough to scoop.

    For the compote:

    1. Toss all the berries in a mixing bowl with the sugar, until evenly coated. Let stand for 30 minutes to 1 hour, stirring a few times as they macerate, to encourage the berries to release their juices.

    2. To serve, divide the compote among dessert glasses or cups, then add a scoop of frozen sabayon to each one.

    VARIATION: To make the sabayon nonalcoholic, use the same amount (¾ cup) of sparkling cider such as Martinelli’s brand; we found in testing that the mixture needed to be whisked for an extra 6 minutes or so to achieve the right consistency. Just before you remove the sabayon from the heat to cool, whisk in a teaspoon or two (to taste) of fresh lemon juice, to help cut any extra sweetness. The yield was slightly less (about 5 cups).

     Yield: 8 servings (makes 5 to 5½ cups)

    The sabayon needs to be frozen for at least four hours, and up to two weeks (in an airtight container).

Thankfully, you don't need to switch on an ice cream maker to whip up a frozen dessert. You simply need a tolerance for the sound of a whisk clanging against the side of a mixing bowl for a few minutes, as the eggs and wine rise to a creamy foam, which surely anyone can deal with, especially when the payoff is so sweet.

Sabayon is the French version of zabaglione, a frothy, Marsala-based Italian dessert sauce that's sometimes served on its own, but I like it spooned over juicy fresh berries. The contrast between the sweet berries and the silky, mousse-like "sauce" makes it impossible to stop eating, especially when les fruits rouges (red berries) are at their peak in the summer.

Speaking of French, to make sabayon, the bolder Marsala is traditionally replaced with a spritzy splash of champagne, making it lighter in flavour, allowing your berries to shine.

Even better, it's easy to make, in a low-tech way. I whip it up by hand in a generous copper bowl that was given to me by a chef in Normandy, who used the bowl to make a decade's worth of omelets - it has plenty of dents and dings to prove it - before he retired it.

It now has a prominent place in my Paris kitchen, and I continue to honour its heritage by using it to whip up the yolks for this sparkling wine-flavoured cousin to ice cream. However, not to worry; if you can't find a French chef to hand off a vintage copper bowl to you, a regular stainless-steel bowl will work just fine.

While I never need an excuse for opening a bottle of champagne, it's nice to have leftovers to sip on while you wait for your sabayon to chill. Still, I'll confess that this frozen sabayon is just as good, and more economical, if made with another fizzy wine, such as prosecco, cava or a California sparkler.

Because the base of this dessert is wine, and alcohol inhibits a firm freeze, it remains scoopably soft in the freezer, which is why no churning is required.

The frozen sabayon pairs perfectly with summer berries, but in the winter, try it with poached pears or dried apricots, or next spring, accompany it with a compote of diced rhubarb simmered in a honey-wine syrup. If I had something this good - plus three-quarters of a bottle of bubbly - left over as a reward every time I operated my vacuum cleaner, I'd do my dusting duty a lot more often.

David Lebovitz is the author of eight books, including The Perfect Scoop (Ten Speed Press, 2007) and L'Appart (Crown Books, 2017), due out in the fall. He blogs at davidlebovitz.com.