Zabaglione al Caffé

February  3, 2011
1 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Serves 3 or 4
Author Notes

When I was little, my mom would make us “caffé col’uovo sbatutto” (coffee with beaten egg). It may sound gross, but it’s really delicious. In a coffee mug, she’d use a funky springy whisk to beat an egg yolk with a few teaspoons of sugar until very foamy, then pour in good strong coffee, and mix it up. We loved it. This recipe is inspired by that memory. —mrslarkin

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: You know mrslarkin from her contest-winning scones and scone bread.
WHAT: A coffee-based custard to inspire dreams of Venice.
HOW: Combine egg yolks, sugar, and cardamom into a thick, pale yellow custard, then whisk in espresso for a treat that belongs in a piazza.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Thick and frothy, this simple mixture is quick to whip together into a dessert to appease both sweet and savory lovers alike. Either spoon it over pound cake or add it to strong coffee for a bittersweet end to an evening—or decadent wake up call. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Seeds of 3 to 4 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 2 half-eggshells full (about 2 ounces or 4 tablespoons) espresso or strong black coffee
  1. Bring 1 cup water to a simmer in a small saucepan.
  2. In a heat-safe bowl that is large enough to sit over your saucepan without touching the bottom, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and cardamom until thick and pale yellow.
  3. Set your bowl over the saucepan, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the hot water, or you might make scrambled eggs. (A double boiler will also work well.) Add the espresso to the egg mixture. Continue whisking until the mixture is foamy and doubled or tripled in volume. Remove bowl from saucepan.
  4. Serve immediately over slices of cake, or spoon into pretty bowls and serve with lady fingers, biscotti, or tuiles. Or, pour some over a demitasse cup of espresso—that’s my favorite way.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Domenic Clarino
    Domenic Clarino
  • Adriana Giannini
    Adriana Giannini
  • Emily | Cinnamon&Citrus
    Emily | Cinnamon&Citrus
  • Kukla
  • LeBec Fin
    LeBec Fin

37 Reviews

Domenic C. December 19, 2023
Just curious…why the cardamon??
Adriana G. April 21, 2018
Mmm, like liquid tiramisu (minus the cardamom). Very popular in Northern Vietnam. Sounds delish.
Emily |. October 6, 2015
Oh and I threw in a cinnamon stick and removed it since I didn't have cardamom on hand to make this a "pantry dessert" :)
Emily |. October 6, 2015
Just made this (literally got home from work late, was looking for a quick dessert because it is my wedding anniversary and my husband was making a nice dinner and I wanted to contribute) - can be pulled together simply even on the fly and absolutely delicious and feels special! Thanks so much for this recipe.
Kukla April 10, 2015
Congratulations! This looks like an easy, but a very tasty and elegant dessert!
LeBec F. April 10, 2015
mrs.L, congrats! I loooove coffee and cardamom together.So smart of you to call for the cardamom seeds; they have such a lovely pungency! Plse tell me, does this taste like a crème anglaise but richer and without flour thickener? How long does it usually take you from start to finish?
And does it retain its volume when chilled? Last question- if you folded in whipped cream and froze it, would you pretty much have a semifreddo?
mrslarkin April 10, 2015
Hi LBF! Thank you! It's very similar to creme anglaise. It takes no time at all if you have all your ingredients prepped (i.e. make your espresso first and get your cake and/or cookies ready). It does not retain it's volume when chilled - at least I don't think so - I've never done that. It's meant to be eaten immediately. But if you fold in whipped cream and froze it, I think in that case it would be very much like a semifreddo, which sounds delicious!
ChefJune April 9, 2015
Oh boy! I so love Zabaglione/Sabayon, and also coffee flavored desserts. This is definitely going on my short list.
AntoniaJames April 9, 2015
The coffee + cardamom combo sounds marvelous. I've never put the two together. Looking forward to trying this! ;o)
Midge April 9, 2015
Oh wow, sounds so good. Congrats Liz!
drbabs April 9, 2015
Wow, congratulations on being a finalist! Hard choice this week! XO
mrslarkin April 9, 2015
Thanks, drbabs!! I agree, definitely a tough one.
testkitchenette April 16, 2011
Fantastic. Lovely memory sharing as well!
mrslarkin April 16, 2011
thanks, tk!
boulangere April 15, 2011
Love your coffee measure!
mrslarkin April 15, 2011
dymnyno February 7, 2011
No I don't think it sounds gross!!!! Isn't eggnog made with raw eggs? This sounds very sophisticated. Your blue and white cup and saucer look gorgeous too!
mrslarkin February 7, 2011
Thanks so much, dymnyno!! (I love my cup and saucer, too. Thx!)
Lizthechef February 5, 2011
I love this recipe as well as your shot and covet that gorgeous cup!
mrslarkin February 5, 2011
Thanks, Liz! That's from my Spode Italian demitasse set. Love the blue and white.
coffeefoodwrite February 4, 2011
Hi mrs l,

could not find cardamom pods but found ground -- do you think that would work as a good substitute and if so, how much would you suggest? thx!
mrslarkin February 4, 2011
hmmm...not sure as I never buy ground cardamom, BUT I would probably start with 1/2 teaspoon ground. I think if you are able to smell the aroma of the spice when it's whisked in at step 2, you'll be good. Definitely keep looking for fresh pods in your travels - they are amazing.
coffeefoodwrite February 4, 2011
thx! ended up using about a fourth and it turned out great -- poured it over a nice espresso....decadent!
mrslarkin February 4, 2011
so great to hear!! now I'm craving an espresso and some more of this. :)
coffeefoodwrite February 3, 2011
wow! this looks amazing...can't wait to try! :-)
mrslarkin February 3, 2011
thanks cfwg! hey where have u been? we've missed u.
coffeefoodwrite February 4, 2011
I've been off finishing a writing project -- so glad to be back on a bit -- missed you guys too!
TheWimpyVegetarian February 3, 2011
This looks perfect to make tomorrow! Love it!
mrslarkin February 3, 2011
Thanks, ChezSuzanne! Let me know how it turns out!
Deb S. February 3, 2011
Super duper grown-up yum! I cannot wait to try this!
mrslarkin February 3, 2011
Thanks, Deb! Let me know if you make it!
drbabs February 3, 2011
mrslarkin February 3, 2011
hardlikearmour February 3, 2011
Yum, mrslarkin. I'd be happy to eat this with a spoon!
mrslarkin February 3, 2011
Thanks, hla! Me too! :)