How to make Skye McAlpine's zabaione and meringue semifreddo

16th May 18 | Lifestyle

Essentially a cake, semifreddo and pavlova hybrid.


OK, this recipe might sound a bit daunting, but it’s really much less intimidating than you might think.

Cook and A Table In Venice author, Skye McAlpine, describes it as “semifreddo-meets-cake-meets-pavlova”. Semifreddo is a type of Italian frozen dessert that typically uses eggs, sugar and cream, while the even more exotic-sounding zabaione is another classic Italian dessert that incorporates egg yolks, sugar, cream and a sweet wine (McAlpine’s tipple of choice is Marsala). Here’s how it’s done…

(Serves 10-12)

1/2 lemon
6 large egg whites
300g caster sugar

For the zabaione:
6 large egg yolks
100g caster sugar
70ml Marsala
300ml whipping cream

Zabaione and meringue semifreddo
(Skye McAlpine/PA)


1. Make the meringue layers first. Heat the oven to 140°C/Gas Mark 1. Line three large baking trays with baking parchment and draw a 24cm circle on each piece of paper. Turn the paper over so you can still see the lines and use them as guides.

2. Rub a large bowl down with the lemon half to cut through any grease. Put the egg whites into the bowl and, using a handheld electric mixer, beat on a low–medium speed until the whites begin to froth. Increase the speed to high and add the sugar a tablespoon at a time until the whites become glossy and form stiff peaks. Spoon the meringue onto the baking parchment and spread it out evenly within the circles.

3. Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes, then switch off the oven and leave the meringues in there, without opening the door, for an hour longer, until the oven has cooled. Take the meringues out of the oven and leave them to cool on the trays.

4. Now make the zabaione cream filling. Put the egg yolks and sugar into a heatproof bowl and whisk with a handheld electric mixer for two to three minutes, until light and fluffy. As the mixture begins to froth up, set the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the water isn’t touching the base of the bowl. Keep whisking until the mixture is thick enough for a trail to stay on the surface when drizzled from the whisk. Slowly pour in the Marsala, whisking all the while. This should take three to five minutes, and as you add the liquid, the zabaione will double in size and thicken. Remove the bowl from the heat and let the zabaione cool to room temperature, whisking occasionally to prevent a skin forming.

5. In a separate bowl, beat the whipping cream until it forms soft peaks. Gently fold it into the cooled zabaione. To assemble the semifreddo, place one of the meringue layers on a serving plate, and spread half the zabaione cream over it. Top with a second layer of meringue, then the rest of the zabaione cream, and finish with the final layer of meringue. Freeze for three to four hours, or longer if you like, until set. Slice like a cake to serve.

A Table In Venice: Recipes From My Home by Skye McAlpine, is published by Bloomsbury, priced £26. Available now.

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