How to Make Pâte à Bombe and Zabaglione



oday it is all about egg yolks and the point of view. To some people, egg yolks are a reminder of fat and cholesterol, but I like to look at my glass as half full. That means, my dear readers, that when I look at egg yolks, I see their delicious future: a decadent chocolate parfait, creamy bavarois, silky crème pâtissière, or a luscious zabaglione melting in my mouth…

So – what is pâte à bombe, and what is zabaglione? Well, let’s put it this way – if the egg yolk and sugar were parents, those would be their kids – alike, but totally different! Meaning – pâte à bombe is not a standalone dessert, it is a technique and a part of a dessert. Zabaglione, however is a standalone dessert.

Pâte à Bombe

Funny story, when I asked one of my students what pâte à bombe is, she readily answered: “It is Italian meringue, but with egg yolks!”

Literary translated from French, this inconveniently means “bomb dough” or “bomb mixture” so be careful if you decide to google this technique because in this day and age, unfortunately, that can lead to trouble, if you know what I mean… I never figured who and why gave such an awkward name to this mixture that consists of only two ingredients – egg yolks and sugar. However, it is the technique that makes this mixture special, not the ingredients. Funny story, when I asked one of my students what pâte à bombe is, she readily answered: “It is Italian meringue, but with egg yolks!” Everybody laughed, but actually, she wasn’t wrong – except for unfortunate phrasing. There is a similarity between the two techniques, but there are some important differences, too.
To make pâte à bombe [pat a bɔ̃b], you will need a stand mixer. In my Parisian pâtisserie lessons, we did make it on hand, with whisk only (no wonder my arms are pretty muscular), but I assure you, it isn’t easy at all! So, I strongly advise you to put your egg yolks in your stand mixer and turn it on.


Unlike Italian meringue, where you need to watch the whisking of your egg whites with an eagle eye, so they are neither too liquid nor over whipped, with egg yolks it is much easier: you can’t overwhip them!


And for the sugar, you do have to cook sugar syrup to soft ball stage, or an exact temperature stated in the recipe, like when making Italian meringue. Once the syrup is ready, you pour it into whipped yolks and continue whipping until pâte à bombe cools down. The heat of cooked syrup pasteurizes the yolks, so they are safe to eat. Although, some people say that the temperature of 116°C (240°F) isn’t high enough for pasteurization. So, if you have germophobia, and you need to be 100% sure of the safety of your pâte à bombe, use pasteurized yolks. And when you pour the syrup over those, some will say they are double-pasteurized, right?


This technique is essential for making parfaits, French buttercream or any mousse-like dessert. So remember, yolks have to be whipped, and you cannot overwhip them, especially not by hand – and, believe me, this information comes from experience…


Zabaglione, Pastry Maestra

Zabaglione [dzabaˈjoːne] or “zabaione” is a luxurious Italian dessert made of egg yolks, sugar and sweet wine, usually Marsala wine. According to Alan Davidson, in “The Penguin Companion to Food” (published in London, 2002) zabaglione was invented at the 16th century Florentine court of the Medici family, well known Italian aristocrats, patrons of many Florentine artists of that time. To make zabaglione you need to whip three ingredients – egg yolks, sugar and Marsala wine on the bain-marie until thick and foamy. If you don’t have Marsala wine, you can use any other dry white wine, or even a liqueur of your choice to make a uniquely flavored dessert. Zabaglione is served warm, usually in a glass, poured over fresh berries. Fun fact – In Venice, where Zabaglione is called “Zabaio”, the ingredients are traditionally measured in eggshells, so on one egg yolk there is one half eggshell of sugar and one half eggshell of Marsala wine. Funny, right?
Anyway, The French adopted the recipe in the 1800s and called it sabayon. By the 20th century the name sabayon besides sweet yolk and sugar preparation, was also used to describe savory yolk-based sauces.

What Else You Can Make from Egg Yolks, Sugar, and Alcohol?

Gogl-Mogl… say… what!?

Gogl-Mogl, Gogol-Mogol or Kogel-Mogel is egg yolk-based homemade dessert popular in Eastern Europe and Russia. It is made by whipping egg yolks, sugar, and flavorings, such as honey, vanilla, cocoa or rum, but it can contain other ingredients like milk, vodka or soda, depending on the personal taste. It is considered as a home remedy for treating cold or flu in Russia and Israel, although it contains raw egg yolks, which are not recommended for consumption due to the risk of contamination with Salmonella bacteria.

Eierlikör and Egg Liqueur. Eggnog Also!:)

In Germany, there is a beverage by the name Eierlikör, made of egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, and rum or other alcohol. The English version is called Egg Liqueur, and in Holland and Belgium it is well known as Advocaat. It is a popular beverage during Easter and Christmas in Europe, while across the pond egg aficionados indulge in eggnog – egg and milk (or cream) based American popular drink.

My grandma used to make a drink she called “Aer cognac” for us kids. She kept it in the fridge; it was yellow, thick liquid in a bottle, and I remember it well. Each day she would give us one spoon of the sweet, sharp beverage, to enhance our health. I never got the recipe though, but I am pretty sure it was her version of German Eierlikör. Since I am not sure if she cooked the yolks, maybe it is for the better to live in the ignorance… Anyway, boys and girls, egg yolks and alcohol are apparently a great combination since almost every country has its own special recipe containing those two. So, grab yourself a strawberry, two spoons and dig in! Do you have your own secret ingredient you put in your egg liqueur?


Zabaglione, Pastry Maestra

Zabaglione Recipe

by:Tereza Alabanda,The Pastry Maestra


This is a classic Zabaglione recipe. It calls for Marsala wine, however, you can use any dry white wine, or a liqueur of your choice. It works very well with Limoncello or Amaretto liqueur.

Prep. time : 5 minutes

Cook time : 20 minutes

Ready in 25 minutes

Level : Basic


  • Egg yolks 80g (2.8oz or 4 medium egg yolks)
  • Sugar 60g (2.1oz)
  • Marsala wine 50ml (1.8oz)
  • Fresh strawberries
  • Crispy cookies


  1. Put egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl and whisk to combine.
  2. Add Marsala wine and stir well.
  3. Put everything on bain-marie and whisk on top the simmering water until the mixture becomes thick and pale. Zabaglione should reach the temperature of 70°C (158°F).
  4. Put crushed cookies at the bottom of the bowl and put diced strawberries on the top.
  5. Pour zabaglione on top of strawberries and top with more fresh strawberries and freshly grated lime zest.

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