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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.
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.
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.
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.
Amaro Chocolate Cake
Yield – 1 10-inch cake
- 4 teaspoons (20 g) instant espresso powder
- 1¼ 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
- 1 pint (475 g) fresh berries
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) amaro
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 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.