NEW YORK — Raspberries are one of the few fruits that never improve when cooked. Nobody ever said, “These fresh raspberries are delicious, but you know what would be really great? A coulis.” Even raspberry jam is a goopy, saccharine disappointment compared to a tender, juicy fresh fuchsia berry.
This seeming miracle of nature poses a problem for home cooks: If you can’t improve raspberries by putting them in a tart or cobbler or upside-down cake, how are you supposed to serve them at a dinner party? When you have guests over, you can’t just dump some fresh raspberries in a bowl and call it dessert, unless you’re Alice Waters. You can beat some heavy cream, sure — raspberries with whipped cream are never not good — but a 4-year-old could whip cream. Suppose you want to wow your friends — what then?
I humbly propose serving your berries with zabaglione, the boozy Italian custard sauce. Zabaglione enhances raspberries without overwhelming them, and it also tends to elicit awed questions like, “How did you make this?” The answer is, in fact, pretty easily — but zabaglione has an aura of being difficult to make and therefore tends to augment your domestic god(dess) cred.
What differentiates zabaglione from most custards is that it contains no milk or cream. Instead, it consists only of egg yolks, sugar and some type of alcohol, traditionally marsala. Marsala is fine dessert wine, but it’s a bit rich in the summertime. This time of year, I like to make zabaglione with prosecco or another sparkling wine instead of the heavier fortified dessert stuff. Prosecco has a lighter, more floral flavor, and its bubbly texture will actually give the zabaglione some extra lift. (The trick is to add it at the end, after the eggs and sugar have cooked.) Plus, it’s just festive.
Raspberries With Prosecco Zabaglione
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Time: About 25 minutes
8 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup prosecco or other sparkling wine
4 cups fresh raspberries
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Put the egg yolks, sugar and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to combine, then set the bowl over the boiling water.
Cook, beating constantly with a handheld mixer or whisk, until the mixture is thick and pale yellow, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the bowl from the heat, whisk in the prosecco, and continue beating until the mixture cools to room temperature. Serve at room temperature or cold with the raspberries. (Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a day.)