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Harry's Bar Torta di Zabaglione

Servings: 10
There is only one Harry's Bar. Located on Venice's Calle Vallaresso, near the the Piazza San Marco, this legendary restaurant has been, for six decades, the meeting place for artists, writers, royalty, maestros, divas, celebrities, the very rich and lots of ordinary, but very wise, Americans and Europeans. Everyone from the Windsors and the Onassises and the Burtons to Cole Porter, Ernest Hemingway and Joan Crawford have come here for great food, fine drinks, and the incomparable ambience. Now, to the delight of his legions of customers, Arrigo Cipriani shares his favorite stories about Harry's Bar and its secrets, and reveals for the first time his treasured recipes for the restaurant's most popular dishes.

Here is the recipe for Torta di Zabaglione, one of Harry's Bar's most requested desserts.

From the Harry's Bar Cookbook:
"I always call this a Venetian cake because of its fantastic appearance and also because zabaglione is the main ingredient of another well-known Venetian specialty, tiramisu, which means "pick-me-up." Our zabaglione cake has a similar taste to tiramisu, but it is much lighter".... Ariggo Cipriani

Note: I recommend making the sponge cake and meringues in advance of preparing the filling for the cake. The cake and meringues can be made a day in advance.

For the Zabaglione Filling:
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar (110 g)
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup dry white wine (125 ml)
1/2 cup dry sherry (125 ml)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (375 ml)

To Assemble the Cake:
3 layers Sponge Cake (see recipe below)
10 meringues (see recipe below) for garnish
1 cup confectioners' sugar (90 g)

Make the Zabaglione Filling:
Using an electric beater, beat the egg yolks for a minute. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is thick and pale yellow. Add the flour 1 tablespoon at a time and beat it in thoroughly. Beat in the white wine and sherry. Put the mixture in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat and cook it, stirring constantly, unti it is just about to boil. Let the custard cook, whisking it from time to time to keep a crust from forming, and refrigerate it, covered, for at least 2 hours. You can make this filling up to 24 hours in advance.

When you are ready to assemble the cake, whip the cream until very stiff and combine it gently but thoroughly with the zabaglione.

Assemble the cake:
Put the bottom layer of cake on a platter and spread half the filling over it. Top it with another layer of cake and, using a board or the bottom of a cake pan, press gently on the cake. A little filling will ooze out, which you will use to frost the sides of the cake. Put all but 1/2 cup (125 ml) or so of the remaining filling on the cake, top it with another layer, and again press down gently on it. Using a spatula, spread the filling evenly over the sides of the cake, using the extra you have saved to make a fairly thick coat.

Stick the meringues evenly around the sides of the cake for decoration. Sift confectioners' sugar over the top of the cake in a thick layer that covers it completely. Refrigerate the cake until serving time.

Makes 10 servings.

Sponge Cake
(Pan di Spagna)

This classic sponge cake is the basis of most of our cakes. We even use it in our fruit tarts and pies.

Makes 1 (9-inch/23 cm) cake

4 eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar (150 g)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour (140 g)

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter and flour a 9-inch (23 cm) cake pan or springform pan.

Separate the eggs. Beat the yolks with the sugar until the mixture is very thick and pale yellow. Beat in the vanilla.

Beat the whites until they are stiff but not dry. Using a rubber spatula, fold one third of the whites gently but thoroughly into the yolk mixture. Then fold in the remaining whites.

Sift the flour onto the egg mixture one third at a time and rapidly, but gently fold it in. Do not beat the batter; cut straight to the bottom of the bowl with the spatula and lift the batter up and over the flour. When the flour is incorporated, scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the cake is golden and tests done, a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry, about 25 minutes.

Let the cake cool briefly on a rack. Then remove it from the pan and let it cool completely. Using a serrated knife with a long blade, slice it horizantally into the number of layers you need for the recipe (torta di zabaglione needs 3 layers). Immediately wrap the layers in plastic wrap until you are ready to use them. If you don't plan to use the cake the same day, you can freeze it, well wrapped, indefinitely.

(Meringhe Sbriciolate)

Meringue, combining beaten egg whites and sugar, is used as an ingredient in many Italian desserts, such as our chocolate mousse, chocolate cake, and meringue cakes. When baked, meringue becomes a crisp but tender, light and fragile confection. We serve tiny baked meringues on our plates of cookies and use larger ones to decorate the zabaglione cake. Baked meringes are delicious filled with fruit and whipped cream or ice cream. Crumbled meringues make a simple, crunchy decoration for a cake covered with whipped cream.

Meringues must be baked at a very low temperature, in fact, they are really dried rather than baked. The longer they're baked or allowed to dry, the drier and crisper the center will be. If the meringues are baked for a shorter time, they will be crisp on the surface but soft and chewy inside.

Makes 12 (2-inch/5 cm) meringues

2 egg whites at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar (110 g)

Preheat the oven to 225°F (107°C). Butter a baking sheet.

Beat the egg whites until they are stiff but not dry. Beat in the vanilla and lemon juice. Very gradually beat in the sugar; the meringue will be glossy and very stiff. Shape the meringues on the baking sheet, using a pastry bag or a couple of spoons. Make the individual meringues about 2 inches (5 cm) across (to decorate the zabaglione cake), or tiny meringues to serve as cookies.

Bake the meringues for an hour. If they show any signs of browning, turn the oven down to 200°F (93°C). Then turn off the oven and let the meringues stay there for at least 2 hours, preferably 4 to 6 hours or overnight.

Remove the meringues from the pan carefully, and store them in a dry place. If you manage to bake the meringues very dry, they'll keep for about a week; if they're a little moist, they're best eaten the same day.

Source: The Harry's Bar Cookbook by Arrigo Cipriani, Bantam (October 1, 1991)

Date: January 12, 2005