Guess what? Although it’s not a sticky-sweet liqueur, amaro is fantastic in dessert recipes.
Just like dark chocolate, with its natural range of complex flavors, amaro great choice to partner with the dark, bitter-sweetness of amaro.
What is amaro?
I wasn’t always a bitter person, but now amaro is a passion.
If you haven’t tried it, amaro is an Italian liqueur based on herbs, spices and botanical ingredients – Campari is a common one you might have tasted. It has an intense bitter edge that takes some getting used to.
After my childhood love of sweets and soft drinks (hello mouthful of dental work), I now crave the opposite: bitterness, along with bold spices and savory umami flavors.
And I’m not the only one. Italians have been cultivating and cooking bitter foods for centuries – think of radicchio, rapini, arugula, and dark-roasted coffee “corrected” with shots of Fernet-Branca.
But American palates are just now getting caught up with them.
Just look at the Negroni. It was a lost and almost forgotten cocktail invented sometime in the early twentieth century and now it’s hard to find a bar or restaurant that doesn’t have a half-dozen variations listed on its cocktail menu.
You won’t hear me complaining, though.
A Negroni may still be my favorite drink (next to a cold glass of bubbly or a fresh-squeezed lime Mojitarita), but I often like to sip amaro all by itself, along with an ice cube or two, especially during the fall and winter.
Amaros, like Campari and my favorite everyday Punt e Mes, supply the magical bitterness in cocktails.
For this cake, I experimented with this recipe, which is based on whiskey rather than the sweet red vermouth I doused the batter with.
he result is super moist, not too sweet nor very boozy. It’s a big cake, but it keeps (and gets even better) for days.
- 4 teaspoons instant espresso powder
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup light brown or muscovado sugar
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, plus additional tablespoon for pan
- 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
- 1/2 cup amaro (I prefer Punt e Mes) or sweet red vermouth
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, grated or finely chopped
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- To serve:
- 1 pint fresh berries
- 1 tablespoon amaro
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- Put the espresso powder, sugars and 1 1/2 cups of water in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking to dissolve. Stir in the butter and 3/4 cup cocoa and heat until butter is melted. Stir in the amaro. Pour into a large heatproof bowl and let cool completely.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 10-inch springform pan and dust with the remaining 2 tablespoons cocoa powder.
- Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together in a bowl. Stir in the chocolate.
- Whisk the eggs and vanilla into the cocoa-amaro mixture, then set a mesh strainer or sifter over the bowl and sift the flour mixture over the top.
- Tip any remaining chocolate pieces in the strainer into the bowl. Fold everything together to combine.
- Pour the batter into the pan and bake 55 minutes. Insert a cake tester into the center of the cake, and if it comes out clean, remove the cake from the oven; otherwise bake another 5 to 10 minutes.
- Let cool on a rack before removing sides of the pan.
- Toss the berries with the amaro and sugar, slightly crushing the fruit. Serve the berries with the cake.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 541 Total Fat: 22g Saturated Fat: 13g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 8g Cholesterol: 93mg Sodium: 430mg Carbohydrates: 75g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 4g Sugar: 50g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 7g