It’s not too soon to start thinking about Valentine’s Day, which is why I’ve created the perfect dessert for a romantic dinner.
My lemon sabayon, served in a martini glass over a layer of cranberry coulis and finished with a spongy lady finger, is not only pleasing to the eye, but packs a big punch of flavor without making you feel weighed down. The smooth airiness of this dessert is what makes it perfect for a date night dinner.
Sabayon is a blend of eggs, sugar, and lemon, cooked gently over a water bath. It is commonly used in tarts, but is absolutely delicious enough to eat on its own. Variations of the lemon sabayon include champagne or white wine. In this particular sabayon, I cut it with a drop of champagne, to cut down the sweetness and also add a bit of lightness.
The lady finger adds that bit of texture to the dessert, and makes the presentation more appealing. Finally, the coulis adds a bright pop of colour at the bottom of the serving vessel (in this case, a martini glass), while adding another dimension of fruity flavor.
I chose to use cranberries for my coulis, as I had an abundance of frozen cranberries left over from Christmas. Raspberries or strawberries work equally well for this fruit puree, and can be either fresh or frozen. For a more refined coulis, the pureed fruit must be sieved to remove seeds and solids. However, if you don’t feel like taking this additional step, all that will happen is you will create a more rustic coulis.
Lady fingers are super simple to make, take less than 10 minutes to bake, cool quickly, and are absolutely delicious when baked fresh. Once you have baked lady fingers, you will never want to buy them from the store again. They are the base for many creamy and custard-filled desserts, most commonly tiramisu and trifles. They can be made in large batches, stored in an airtight container for 2 weeks, and go well with a cup of coffee.
I recommend baking the lady fingers in advance, so they are ready to go when assembling the dessert. The coulis can also be made in advance, and stored in the fridge until ready to use. The sabayon must be made to serve, so try to make it as close to dinner time as possible.
When assembling the dessert, start with a small amount of coulis in the bottom of a martini glass, layer with the sabayon, and then place a cookie gently into the glass to finish it off.
You will need:
1 tbsp cornstarch
¼ cup all purpose flour
2 eggs, separated
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
- Preheat oven to 425F.
- Sift cornstarch and flour together
- Whip the egg yolks with a tablespoon of sugar, until thick and creamy
- Whip the egg whites until foamy. Gradually add the remaining sugar and lemon zest, continuously whipping until stiff peaks form.
- Fold approximately a third of the egg whites into the yolk mixture, and then fold in the remaining whites.
- Fold in the flour mixture, being careful not to over-mix.
- Place the batter into a piping bag with a plain tip, and carefully pipe out the cookies onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. The fingers should be about 4 inches long.
- Bake immediately for about 8 minutes, until golden. Allow to cool completely before removing from tray.
- Makes 12-20 cookies.
You will need:
1 cup cranberries
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp juice of lemon
- In a small sauce pan over medium high heat, heat cranberries, sugar, and lemon juice.
- Stir occasionally, cooking until berries have released their juice and cooked down, about 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat, puree using an emersion blender or food processor.
- *Optional- strain through a mesh sieve to remove seeds and pulp, or leave as is for a rustic fruit sauce.
- Transfer to fridge and allow to cool.
You will need:
Juice of 1 lemon, plus zest
3 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1 ½ tbsp dry champagne
- Combine egg, egg yolks, and sugar in a stainless steel bowl. Whisk for about 1 minute.
- Add champagne and juice to the egg mixture.
- Place the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Whisk vigorously until the sauce is thick and pale yellow, approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to an ice bath, whisking for another few minutes. Serve immediately.