Berry Gratin with Lemon Sabayon
Why This Recipe Works
Sabayon is a thick, slightly frothy, and creamy dessert sauce, popular in France and Italy (where it is known as zabaglione). With its fresh, slightly warmed berries and delicate, caramelized sugar crust, this dessert is a simple summertime pleasure.
We started with the fruit, selecting a mixture of raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. A brief stay in the oven heated the berries and released enough juices, and also maintained the pure berry flavor that tasters wanted. We found that lemon was the best complement to the fruit, with a mixture of zest and juice providing the most complex flavors. Three egg yolks and a combination of water and lemon juice produced a light consistency and a pleasantly strong lemon flavor. A moderate amount of sugar sweetened the sabayon sauce without overwhelming it, and a pinch of salt rounded out the flavors.
With the ingredients chosen, it was time to refine our technique. We needed to dissolve the sugar fully and whip enough air into the sauce to create the desired frothy texture. Whisking the egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl, off heat, dissolved most of the sugar. Setting the bowl over a pan of simmering water while continuing to whisk dissolved the rest. After adding the remaining ingredients, whisking constantly increased the volume threefold. (It is necessary to whisk constantly to ensure that the yolks closest to the heat don’t overcook and curdle.) Once the sabayon is the proper thickness, it should be removed immediately and whisked for an additional 30 seconds to cool slightly. To assemble the dessert, we simply spooned the sabayon over the warmed fruit and added a sprinkling of sugar, which we quickly caramelized with a kitchen torch.