This Is the Dessert I'm Making for Every Spring Brunch
Spring is one of my favorite times of year to go all-in on hosting brunches. Early spring produce lends itself to light late-morning or early midday meals. Salads, vegetable frittatas, and quiches let those delicate early vegetables shine, and the weather tends to still be brisk enough to lend itself to a hearty indulgent meal but is usually nice enough for a post-prandial walk outside to stave off napping.
Fruit, a brunch staple, can be a bit complicated in spring. Berries can be beautiful, but not as sweet or juicy as summer versions. You still have excellent citrus on deck, which can be wonderful and bright at brunchtime, but it is too early for melon or stone fruits.
The perfect brunch dessert
All that said, I have found that the perfect brunch dessert—and it's a fruit one!
The trick is to balance all the tart acidity of those imperfect fruity choices with a sweet, slightly boozy, fluffy sauce. Whether you call it zabaglione or sabayon, this sweet, warm whipped egg sauce is a brunchy showstopper. It adds the flourish of creamy and sweet that's the perfect foil for fruits that lean tart. Bonus? That little hint of fortified wine in the mix! The best part? This sauce is ratio-based and super easy to make.
How to make my zabaglione brunch dessert
First, arrange the fruits of your choice in individual portions in shallow bowls and set aside. I do this usually with raw fruit, but you can macerate the fruit with some sugar to make it a little juicy if you like. (If you love rhubarb, make a compote by cooking the fruit lightly with a bit of sugar until it slumps, and let cool to room temp before serving.)
For every person you are serving you will need:
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ tablespoon fortified wine like madeira, sherry, or marsala (if you want to use port, go tawny instead of ruby so that the color doesn't get muddy)
Here's all you do:
1. Cover the bottom of a saucepan with a couple inches of water and bring to a steady simmer.
2. Place the yolks, sugar, and wine in a glass or stainless bowl and whisk together, then place on top of the simmering pot, being sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.
3. Using a hand mixer with a whisk attachment if you have one (or a hand whisk if you have good upper body endurance), whip the egg mixture over the simmering water until the sugar has fully dissolved and the sauce has lightened and tripled in volume. You should have a thick, velvety, fluffy but still pourable sauce, and if you rub it between your fingers, you should not feel any grit of unmelted sugar. (This should only take between 5-7 minutes maximum, but go by sight and feel. If your water is hotter or your mixer is faster it might go faster; if your water is cooler or you are whisking by hand, it can take longer. The key is to never stop whisking, or the sugar can create little "cooked" bits of coagulated egg, and sweet scramble is not what you are going for here.)
4. Spoon the sauce generously over your fruit and serve while still warm.
The combination of cold fruit with the warm sauce, the tart acidity of the fruit with the sweet heady creamy sauce, it is a flavor and textural delight and the work of minutes. It is also a wonderful sauce over a fruit sorbet or ice cream, or as a topper for fruit tarts or galettes.
Here's to all your sweet spring brunches!