Zabaione al Caffé

One of the first exchanges between Jesse and I on the night I landed in Sydney went something like this:

‘Did you bring the big moka pot?’
‘I had to leave it. My bag was overweight’
‘Oooh Val…’
‘Well, we have the little one that you brought…’

He wasn’t happy. For the first time in five years, we had to part with our 12-cups Italian stove top cafetière. It was one of the first things we bought together when we first moved into our little flat in Bra. It had travelled with us through Italy and then moved with us to London. It had come along on most of our trips – to France and the Basque Countries, to Croatia, to Mexico. Now, it was sitting in a box in my parents’ garage, wrapped in newspaper, mingled with other possessions of ours, catching the dust. We had to leave it behind in favour of a smaller and lighter 3-cups moka – a later addition to the family, suitable mostly to Sundays’ after lunch pick-me-ups, or sporadic after-dinner coffee cravings.

The 12-cups moka has been put down to work every single morning at breakfast time since the very start. Making coffee at home in the morning is a ritual we shared from day one. It was a habit that preceded our relationship, that we brought together effortlessly.  Of course, making stove-top moka pot coffee belongs mostly to Italian culture – Jesse was always brewing his cup with a French press before moving to Italy – yet such habit was never questioned by either of us. Living in Italy, the ritual and gestures just made their way into our morning routine quite naturally. The only problem concerned size: the moka is not meant to brew large servings of coffee, but rather make small, espresso-size cups. This wasn’t suitable, in Jesse’s mind, to his morning coffee needs. So out he went, bought a massive moka pot, and started to ignore the serving suggestions completely. Since then, that massive moka pot, designed for 12 Italian-size cups, ended up serving just the two of us at breakfast.

We have always been caffeinated people (less so now, with our smaller moka), and lovers of coffee in general. We know what we like though we don’t call ourselves connoisseurs. We enjoy coffee brewed well, from a machine as much as from a filter; good coffee, with a balanced flavour that doesn’t require milk and sugar. We dislike over-acidic coffees and have many times been turned down by so-called coffee specialists, cussing at the latest coffee snobbery and dreaming of the very many unassuming Italian bars where coffee is cheap and always good. We enjoy indulging in a good espresso with a little cream on top, even if such pleasure lasts only for a few seconds and is consumed standing at the counter. But we also like having the chance to make good coffee at home with our humble moka, despite the fact it often doesn’t allow for the level of flavour subtlety other methods can deliver. Still, the quality of the coffee remains key.

In time, together with quality, we have become increasingly conscious of the ethics surrounding this imported product. In Bra, we had discovered a little Fair Trade shop carrying excellent Ethiopian coffee; we immediately nudged the big brands in its favour. In London, Fair Trade coffee is widely available, and so is organic, so it was easy for us to find good ethical beans. Here in Sydney, the coffee culture is so lively, widespread and at the same time so attentive to quality and origin, that sourcing good coffee is truly a no brainer. Still, there is always room to learn more about a product that we enjoy on a daily basis but that grow so far away.

So when the lovely Kimberly of The Little Plantation approached me to take part to a virtual blog party supporting Malawi Coffee, I was hooked. Malawi produces a small amount of extremely high-quality coffee that is still hard to find in most coffee shops, no matter how specialised. Coffee production sustains the economy of whole communities in the area, yet there is a lack of infrastructures to make this coffee easily available to western markets. Rising awareness about this speciality coffee may indeed increase demand and create a market for it – which is, in short, the ambitious scope of this blog party. You can find out more about Malawi coffee and the Mzuzu Coffee Planters Coop Union here, here and here.

There is a small number of roasters where you can buy Malawi coffee in the world:

Coffee Direct (UK/Europe) – They are offering us a generous 20% discount on Malawi Coffee when using the code #loveMalawicoffee at checkout (valid until 31st December 2015)
Toms Coffee (USA)
iGourmet (excellent info on their product profile) (USA)
. Worldwide, Malawi coffee is also available on eBay (seller based in the UK) and Amazon.

On the occasion of this blog party, Kimberly gathered a great group of talented bloggers and invited us to create a tempting coffee-centric recipe using Malawi coffee. Before entering into the details of today’s recipe, then, find below all the fantastic girls who took part (find us all on Instagram at #loveMALAWIcoffee), and their tentalising coffee recipes:

Aimee, Twigg StudiosWinter Spices Coffee Cake
Bettina, Bettina’s KitchenCoffee Crunch Chocolate Mousse
Kimberly, The Little Plantation – the great mind behind this blog party!– Vegan Malawi Coffee Ice Cream with Salted Caramel Swirl
Maria, MarrbellChristmas Coffee and Vanilla Eggnog
Jenny, Jenny MustardTofu Skewers with Chocolate Coffee Sauce 
Carole, Mademoiselle Poirot – Coffee and Hazelnut Buns with Orange Icing
Dorota, Plants on Your PlateCream of Celeriac with Coffee Drizzle 
Sophie, The Green LifeCoffee Blondies with Homemade Nutella
Joscelyn, Wife Mama Foodie – Salted Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes
Gena, The Full Helping – Coffee Brownies
Ksenia, At The Immigrant’s Table – Gluten-Free Jewish Doughnuts with Cardamom Coffee Cream 

Since we are approaching the holiday season, I thought to take the chance to share a favourite festive creamy pudding where coffee is king – zabaione al caffè (You might have guessed that from the title). A riff on the classic and much-loved Venetian zabaione, I swapped the usual wine or liqueur with the same amount of strong-brewed coffee. The result is a lush, velvety cream where the flavour of coffee is beautifully powerful, and yet muffled by the gentle sweetness of the egg base. Hope you’ll love it. To me, it feels is equally at home ladled in small cups and enjoyed by the spoonful or as a sauce for cake. I love it served as a light dessert with a couple of almond biscuits, or else poured over a lightly toasted slice of panettone. Few things feel more Christmassy than that.


Zabaione al Caffé

Serves 4
4 large egg yolks
4 tablespoons caster sugar
4 tablespoon strongly brewed coffee

Bing a small pot with 500 ml (2 cups) of water to the boil. In a large stainless steel bowl, whip the yolks with the sugar until very creamy and pale yellow. Pour in the coffee and whisk to combine.

Place the bowl over the simmering pot of water, making sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Start whisking your zabaione and keep going until you see it thickening and becoming dense and opaque. The colour should be light brown. When done, remove from the heat and place in a bowl with ice-cold water to stop the curdling process. Keep whisking to cool evenly.

Divide the zabaione into four serving bowls, then place in the fridge to chill for at least one hour. Alternatively, transfer it to a pouring jug or creamer and serve it at room temperature as a sauce for cake.


  1. Valeria, the light in these pictures is unbelieveable. And I love how vividly you describe your and Jesse's passion for coffee.
    Thank you so much for agreeing to be a part of this blog party and sharing this stunning creation.
    Big hug

    • Valeria December 8, 2015

      It was a huge pleasure and great fun – all for a good cause. Thank YOU for hosting it! x

  2. Carole Poirot December 7, 2015

    Mmmm, love zabaione and love coffee, so this is pretty much the perfect recipe for me! xo

    • Valeria December 8, 2015

      I hear you! Possibly one of my favourite combinations, too. 😉 x

  3. I have always been intrigued by zabaione, and this would clearly marry the best of both worlds for me – a light dessert with the bitter finish of coffee. Perfection!

    • Valeria December 8, 2015

      It is a great end to a meal, no doubt – not too heavy and just so satisfying! x

  4. Rosemarie December 17, 2015

    Yep, it's definitely case of the best of both world's with this wonderful zabaglione. Not only do you get your after meal sweet fix, you get your caffeine hit too!

    I love coffee and moka pots too and I remember being sad about having to part with the Bialetti moka pot I had while I was living in France. I handed it down to a local who I knew would treasure it – a fellow coffee lover who adored the coffee I made with it. Knoinwg it was in good hands made me feel better about it!

    • Valeria December 21, 2015

      That's what I thought, too – you get both end-of-the-meal flavours (sweet & bitter).
      Yes, knowing our moka pot is at my parents', safe and sound, makes us feel slightly less sad about this separation! x


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