Amarena Cherry Cake

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I always have Amarena cherries on hand, because my husband loves Manhattans, and I put them in his cocktail. I’ve also used them in sangria, but never baked with them. Until now.

If you buy Italian Amarena cherries, via Amazon, the beautiful jar has a recipe attached for a cake using them, along with this terrible photo. It looks like my grand daughter made this cake!

My cake definitely turned out prettier, and more what this cake is meant to look like!

On the left, below, are the cherries I order from Amazon. Trader Joe’s also sells these cherries.

It’s challenging to describe Amarena cherries. They’re almost candied, but not really. They’re not as sweet as a Maraschino cherry. And they come in a lovely cherry syrup. They would be wonderful on ice cream, or topped on buratta!

I’ve also seen Amarena cherries in biscotti, at the blog Marisa’s Italian Kitchen. I cannot wait to make those!

Amarena Cherry Cake with Chocolate
Cake with Amarena Cherries and Chocolate

200 grams Amarena cherries, drained
2 tablespoons of the syrup
8 ounces butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup fine-grained cornmeal
1 cup powdered sugar
3 large eggs, separated
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup Grand Marnier liqueur
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt

Sift together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt; set aside. Beat butter with powdered sugar until light.

Beat in egg yolks, one at a time, until each is fully incorporated. Beat in orange liqueur and the syrup. Stir in the dry ingredients.

Beat the egg whites to a soft peak; fold in gently. Fold in the cherries and chopped chocolate until just incorporated.

Bake in a greased and floured 9” cake pan (loaf pan) at 375 degrees for approximately 65-70 minutes. (I baked mine at 350 degrees and removed it after 45 minutes.)

I’m sure by now you know that this cake is exceptionally good. How could it not be with these cherries and chocolate together?!

Warmed up, served with unsalted butter, was heavenly.

In the photo of the recipe, shown below, the name of this cake is plum cake. I consulted my friend and Italian cooking expert Stefan, from Stefan Gourmet, to help explain why it’s called plum cake when there are no plums.

“It is not necessarily a cake with cherries that is called a plum cake in Italy. Any cake that more or less follows the “quatre quarts” recipe is called a plum cake in Italy.

Originally, a plum cake is any cake that has dried fruit in it, like prunes or raisins. The word “plum” is used loosely. In Italy, plum cake is thought of as a recipe from England. I believe that nowadays a plum cake is usually called a fruitcake in England.

In Italy, the name plum cake is used for any cake that is rectangular and has flour/sugar/butter/eggs as the main ingredients.

A cake in Italy that is rectangular with flour/sugar/butter/eggs plus cherries would probably be called a plum cake, or more completely a “plum cake alle ciliegie” (literally: plum cake with cherries).”

I hope that helps! It’s still a little confusing to me. This photo shows part of the recipe.

Pink Prosecco Margarita

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My friend Dan loves a good cocktail. So when he made a point to text me this recipe, I knew it would be good.

He found it online originally, and made a few adaptations, but because I don’t know the origin, I’ll just call it Dan’s recipe.

It’s basically the ingredients for a real margarita, plus pink lemonade and Prosecco.

However, I couldn’t find pink lemonade where I live. Maybe it was sold out? But I did find strawberry lemonade, which I never knew existed, so I thought I’d try that, mostly because I’m impulsive. Same cocktail, but subtly strawberry flavored. Still pink, in fact hot pink!

I imagine if you’re not having a girls’ party like a bridal shower or somesuch, you can use regular lemonade for this cocktail, but the thought of making and serving a pink drink was so compelling to me!

My girlfriend helped out with a perfect happy hour setting at her house to test out the cocktail. I mean, to help with the photography.

Dan’s Pink Prosecco Margarita

1 cup pink lemonade*
3/4 cup Patron tequila
½ cup Patron orange liqueur
2 ounces lime juice, about 3 small limes
1/2 – 1 cup Prosecco, well chilled
Lime and salt for rimming

Pour the lemonade in a serving pitcher, and add the tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice. Chill in the refrigerator.


Right before serving, add the Prosecco.

Rim the glasses with lime juice and dip the rim with salt.


I also tried the margarita over ice, mostly because it was hot out and my girlfriend and I had been working so hard on this photo shoot (thanks Jil!) and that was also good. (not pictured.)

Overall, this is a lovely summer cocktail, but in fact, could be served at parties at various times of the year. I can see cranberries thrown in at a holiday party for example!

* Use one 12 ounce can thawed, frozen pink lemonade concentrate, or strawberry lemonade concentrate, and mix with two containers (24 ounces total) of water.

One More Margarita

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I happen to like the taste of tequila, which is odd because I dislike strong cocktails. But margaritas, made with tequila, for anyone who may not know, can be really tasty. The ones I like are also refreshing.

On this blog I’ve posted on my friends’ real margarita, and also my own watermelon margarita. None of that disgusting sweet and sour mix in these recipes, just real ingredients.

Recently I visited an old friend out of town, and on our first night she made margaritas to celebrate. And I was blown away by them.

Gabriella went to visit Stéphane with me in France a few years back. Here we are trying not to giggle about something.

Gabriella has given me permission to share her recipe, which includes expected ingredients, plus a few unexpected ones.

So, one more margarita recipe!

Gabriella’s Margarita
makes one drink

Lime and salt if desired
2 ounces tequila
3 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
2 ounces Grand Marnier or Cointreau
1 tablespoon agave nectar
2-3 ounces club soda
Twist of freshly ground pepper

Lime and salt a tall glass, and fill with ice cubes.

Mix the tequila, lime juice, and Grand Marnier together in a pourable pitcher. In this photo I hadn’t added the lime juice yet.

Add the agave nectar and stir well.

Pour the margarita over the ice cubes, not filling the glass by more than 2/3 full.

Add club soda and stir to combine.

Then top the margarita with a twist of black pepper.

And that’s it!

It’s more refreshing than a 3-ingredient margarita, what I call a real margarita, because it’s smoother and doesn’t have that bite. But I love both.


The other evening I made myself a real margarita, mostly because it’s the easiest to remember – 1 part tequila, 1 part Cointreau, and 1 part fresh lime juice.

And out of curiosity and for the sake of culinary research, I added Fresca to my margarita. People, I swear Fresca is magical. It lightened and fizzed up the margarita, but also blended all of the flavors.

So however you make your favorite margaritas, try topping them off with chilled club soda or Fresca, and see what you think!

A Real Margarita

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Rarely do I order a margarita at a restaurant. Unless it’s a Mexican restaurant with top-shelf margaritas shaken to order by a bartender, they tend to be heavy on the sweet-and-sour-mix.

What that means is the following:
1. You don’t taste the tequila.
2. Your mouth puckers from the sweet-sour.
3. You invariably get a headache.

So typically I make margaritas at home, although I limit myself to two drinks. I don’t have any bad college memories of tequila overindulgence, because I didn’t drink back then. But I’ve probably heard too many scary stories from other folks, that help me maintain a healthy respect for tequila’s powers.

Although I don’t really enjoy the taste of booze, even vodka, I do like tequila. I’d never drink it straight, but I also don’t want to ruin it with disgusting margarita mix. I’ve searched long and hard for a good, reliable margarita recipe.

Lo and behold, enter my friends, man and wife, both great bartenders and hosts.

This post is thanks to them, and their margarita recipe that they’re allowing me to share with the world!!! I have no idea if it’s a common recipe or not, but most all margarita recipes include sweet and sour mix, simple syrup, or sugar. So trust me, if you like a good, strong, but also refreshing margarita, this recipe is perfect!

Just remember: tequila can creep up on you!

The recipe is this simple. Equal parts tequila, orange liqueur, and fresh lime juice. That’s it. The lime juice provides the tartness and freshness, the liqueur adds just enough sweetness, and the tequila, well that’s the booze.

Of course, a margarita isn’t a margarita without the lime and salt rim.

Start by squeezing limes. You may think you have a lot, but you may barely have enough. Trust me on this. (My husband squeezed 32 limes on Cinco de Mayo for our pitcher of margaritas for four people!)

I ended up with 4 ounces of lime juice, so to it I added 4 ounces each of tequila and orange liqueur. I recommend either Cointreau or Grand Marnier. For tequila I stick with Patron.

Have your glasses ready with salted rims, then fill with ice cubes.

Pour in the margarita.

Enjoy.

Of course these margaritas could also be blended with ice, but I prefer mine on the rocks.

On a hot day, there’s no better drink than a margarita, but not if they’re cloyingly sweet.

If you want a special treat, top the margarita off with a Chambord floater! And thank my same friends for this unique twist on a margarita.