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Chocolate Amaro Cake

5 from 1 vote

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A moist chocolate cake flavored with bitter Italian liqueur. If you love Campari and chocolate, you need to try this recipe.

A chocolate cake on a cake stand with bottles of liqueur in the background.

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.

A slice of thick chocolate cake on a plate with vermouth soaked fresh raspberries.

Just look at the Negroni. It was a lost and almost forgotten cocktail invented sometime in the early twentieth century.

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.

A chocolate cake on a cake stand with bottles of liqueur in the background.

For this cake, I experimented with this recipe, which is based on whiskey rather than the sweet red vermouth I doused the batter with.

The result is super moist, not too sweet nor very boozy. It’s a big cake, but it keeps (and gets even better) for days.

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Amaro Chocolate Cake

Karen Tedesco
This cake will stay tasty and moist for 3 or 4 days on the kitchen counter, wrapped well with plastic.
Print Pin
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 25 mins
Course Desserts
Cuisine chocolate
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients

Yield – 1 10-inch cake
  • 4 teaspoons (20 g) instant espresso powder
  • cups (250 g) granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup (165 g) light brown sugar
  • 12 tablespoons (180 g) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, plus additional tablespoon for pan
  • ¾ cup (70 g) + 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • ½ cup (125 ml) amaro or sweet red vermouth, (I prefer Punt e Mes)
  • 2 cups (250 g) all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 4 ounces (125 g) bittersweet chocolate, grated or finely chopped
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For serving
  • 1 pint (475 g) fresh berries
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) amaro
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

Instructions 

  • Put the espresso powder, sugars and 1 ½cups of water in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking to dissolve. Stir in the butter and ¾ 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 (160 C) 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 642kcal | Carbohydrates: 97g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 107mg | Sodium: 532mg | Potassium: 343mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 63g | Vitamin A: 648IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 61mg | Iron: 4mg
Did you make this recipe? Mention @Familystylefood or tag #familystylefood on Instagram!!

Hey, I’m Karen

Creator of Familystyle Food

I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about making cooking fun and doable, with easy to follow tested recipes and incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.

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12 Comments

  1. Karen, I love love the sound of this cake and was just planning to make it for dinner party tonight when I realised I am confused by the instruction with regards to the chocolate addition. Please elaborate?

    Step 3 says to “Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together in a bowl. Stir in the chocolate.” Which chocolate – the grated bittersweet chocolate? (since cocoa was already mixed into water/butter mixture in step 1.
    But then step 4 says “Whisk the eggs and vanilla into the chocolate mixture, then set a mesh strainer or sifter over the bowl and sift the flour mixture over the top. Fold in the dry ingredients to combine.”
    Which chocolate mixture to which eggs and vanilla into, the cocoa/butter/water mixture or the flour/grated chocolate mixture?? Also, if I was to ‘sift flour mixture over the top’ that wouldn’t work if there was grated chocolate in the flour!

    As I’m making this today, and probably won’t get a reply on time, I intend to melt bittersweet chocolate on its own, mix eggs into it, combine it with the other liquid mixture (from step 1), then finally sift flour into this. I’m not sure if this is how it was intended, and whether you were maybe meant to stir grated chocolate into butter/water/cocoa mix but am too scared to do this in case the whole thing seizes! Your clarification would be much appreciated. Thanks, Diana

  2. I’m not sure my nieces and nephew would go for this, but this has dinner party written all over it. I can just imagine serving it with a little after-dinner liquor.

    You mentioned it gets better as it sits. Does it freeze well?

  3. Thanks for the recipe… I can’t wait to try with my family!

  4. Just had our first piece…delicious! Thanks for the recipe ?

  5. Ciao Karen! This cake is right up my alley; unlike you, I have always been a bitter person. Chinotto was my favorite soda when I was a kid, and to this day coca-cola tastes insipid to me (I’m not much of a soda drinker anyway). There are two ecently published books that focus on bitter flavors that I really like: Bitter, by Jennifer McLagan; and Bitterman’s Field Guide to Bitters and Amari, by Mark Bitterman. Thanks for sharing this recipe, I’ll be making it for sure.

    1. Hi Domenica! Wow, Chinotto is serious stuff – no wonder you have a great palate as an adult 🙂
      I just caught up on a few Splendid Table podcasts and listened to both Jennifer McLagan and Mark Bitterman talk about their books, both inspiring.

  6. Good to see your post. I’ve been missing you! Many bitters in New Orleans. Come, visit!

    1. Georgia – miss you always! Thinking of you and hope you’re enjoying Jazz Fest right now…

  7. she lives! 🙂 I’ve been checking back periodically to see if you’d popped back up; glad you are back! i am a fellow bitter-lover & this recipe looks fantastic.

    1. Hi Taina. Ha ha, yes I took a much longer than anticipated hiatus. But so glad to hear from you! Let me know if you try the cake.