I made a Felicity Cloake tiramisu, which was delicious, but I still had an almost full bottle of Marsala. What else can I do with it?
Not all messengers are created equal: you have it dry (dry), semi-dry (dry medium) f nicely (Sweet), but since Viv is talking about the tiramisu, I’m going to assume it’s the last one that needs to use up. However, before we get too deep into that, Guardian beverage expert Fiona Beckett says it’s worth noting that this fortified Sicilian wine is often sold in half bottles, though she gives that not much use to the Viv now. “However, the good news is that you can use it basically anywhere you’d use a sweet sherry,” adds Beckett.
First and foremost, consider that spending Marsala is a treat for the cook. “Dip in when you finally get rid of the family and things calm down,” says Beckett, who suggests sipping it with any cake, chocolate, or stilton. Alternatively, for one last run before the dry(ish) January, consider a cocktail like the Marsala Martini: Mixologist Tony Conigliaro’s recipe calls for 50ml London dry gin, 10ml Dolce Marsala, 5ml dry liquor and a few drops of bitters. Almonds.
Otherwise, as the name suggests, Marsala is best used in desserts, most famously in zapayon. This light dessert, says Mitchell Abraham, chef/owner of soon-to-open Umbra & Forno, both in London, is a kind of custard made with egg yolks, sugar and Marsala, all slow-cooked over a bath-marie. Fun with a panettone,” if you’ve got anything Christmas on hand. Marsala is also especially good with anything that reflects its nutty, caramel, and dried fruit flavors: cantucci biscuits (or similar) for dipping, or peaches for compote (to eat with rice pudding) , or raisins, dried figs etc. for soaking, then mixing into a fruitcake, assuming you’re not really bored of the stuff by now.
Marsala also makes a good playmate for fresh fruit, from marinating strawberries (when the time comes) to pouring ready-to-bake pears. In his book The Christmas Chronicles, Nigel Slater brings cider, jam, Marsala, and honey to a boil, then peeled, cored, and sliced pears, then bakes until soft.
If a dry Marsala dessert is out there, do as Rachel Roddy, the Guardian’s Italy-based food correspondent, does by keeping a bottle next to the cooker for when soups, stews, gravies and things with mushrooms need a “push” on it. Beckett, too, turns it into stews and sauces, as well as game pies: “Just add it carefully, spoon by spoon, then taste and see how it goes.”
Simona Di Dio, chef/co-owner of Italian Bottega Caruso in Margate, is also going the meat-and-mushroom route with her mom’s scrappin’. Dredge scallops (pork or chicken) in flour, then fry in olive oil and butter. “Add the Marsala, simmer until the wine reduces, then set the scallops aside. In the same skillet, add more oil and a clove of minced garlic, then the mushrooms, black pepper, thyme, and parsley.” Once everything is cooked through, you have two options: Bring the scallops and mushrooms together, or place the meat on a greaseproof board, cover with mozzarella and sautéed veggies, wrap and bake for about 15 minutes, until melted. Plain cheese.