Origin of Sabayon
Sabayon (from Italian zabaione) is a recipe of Italian origin. The word appears in 1803 in the original French form of sabaillon.
It is believed that the soldiers brought it back to France during the Italian and Swiss expedition of 1799-1800. Several stories, some probably legendary, give the sabayon an older origin.
It is believed that Catherine de Medici introduced it to the court of France in 1533.
Other sources attribute its paternity to Turin. According to these sources, Franciscan Brother Paschal of Baylon (1540-1592), canonized in 1690 under the pontificate of Alexander VIII, would have invented the original sabayon recipe.
An incredible legend tells that this Spanish churchman, also a very good cook, was visiting a parish in Turin on a pilgrimage to Europe and recommended a recipe with eggs and wine to the women who were complaining about the lack of sexual stamina of their spouse.
This recipe, nicknamed San-Bayon in the local dialect, would eventually take the name of sabajone.
The history of the Tunisian version is much more recent. It seems that the Italian version was imported into Tunisia by a newly opened glacier “Chez Salem” (now called “Le Petit Salem”) in 1936 at La Marsa, the chic suburb north-east of Tunis.
We owe the ice cream adaptation of the famous Italian dessert to Salem Hafi, and his Tunisian Jewish friend Bébert.
Tunisian Sabayon recipe
To make this recipe, dry white wine (Chardonnay, Champagne) or fruity wine (Marsala, Sauternes, Muscat) can be used.
The white wine is occasionally replaced by sweeter or digestive wine such as port, or by liquor such as rum, kirch, grappa, Grand Marnier, or Cointreau.
It must be prepared just before serving. Depending on the proportion of sabayon compared to other ingredients, it can be considered a sauce or a custard in its own right.
There are different versions of sweet and even savory sabayons. For example, sweet sabayon with sweet wine is often prepared to accompany diced fruits.
The savory sabayon with lemon, meanwhile, is more intended to accompany scallops.
Sweet sabayon is also often used as a base for mousse or other desserts.
Eggnog is a type of sabayon with milk, cream, spice, and liqueur that is prepared like the Italian recipe. Custard preparations are often used as a dessert or beverage base. Examples, suspiro limeño from Peru, coquito, this popular alcoholic drink from Puerto Rico prepared for Christmas, or the English trifle.
Storage and Serving Suggestions
Sabayon is also often served for dessert in Tunisian restaurants, served with bouscoutou (a kind of sponge cake), harissa hloua (or aricha), a delicious almond, and semolina cake, or just red berries.
Tunisian sabayon can be prepared fairly quickly. However, it is necessary to wait for at least 8 good hours so that it has time to firm up in the freezer before tasting it.
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Be sure to recreate this incredible delicacy. Bon appétit!
- Stand mixer
- 6 eggs
- ⅔ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup oil
- 2 tablespoons orange blossom water
- Pistachios or almonds crushed
- Separate the eggs.
- Whisk the yolks with 5 tablespoons of sugar and the vanilla extract, until the mixture becomes pale and frothy.
- Add the oil slowly, and continue whisking to obtain a smooth and homogeneous mixture.
- Add the orange blossom water and mix.
- Separately, beat the egg whites with the remaining sugar until stiff.
- Fold one third of the egg whites into the yolks gently, then gradually combine the remaining egg whites by folding without stirring.
- Pour the mixture into individual ramekins or into a large pan and place in the freezer for at least 8 hours.
- Decorate with pistachios or crushed almonds.
- Serve by itself, or with red berries, harissa hloua or bouscoutou (sponge cake).