Fishing out the last stem from a jar of Amarena cherries is extremely disappointing—even more upsetting if there’s no cherry attached. These bitter cherries are saturated with flavor and boast such a romantic, dark red, you’ll be instantly smitten the moment you pop the lid. They’re the elevated version of a maraschino cherry and can really add some polish to a sundae or a cocktail. But when that final cherry is spent, stop yourself from dejectedly pouring out the remaining five ounces of syrup. That stuff is sweet cherry magic and the secret ingredient you need to cherry-fy everything from cocktails to waffles. (Plus the jar is really cute.)
If you haven’t had Amarena cherries yet, practice some self-care and get a jar of them immediately. You can get them year round from Italian specialty stores and online retailers, but they make a wider appearance in many grocery stores over the winter holidays (I usually pick up a jar or three at Trader Joe’s). I use the cherries in a number of baked goods from November through January, but could never bring myself to pour the liquid down the drain. Over the years, I’ve found some tasty applications for the leftover syrup because I hate wasting flavorsome ingredients, and because I’m damn stubborn. Thank goodness, too, because your whole cherry game is about to level up.
Icings and glazes
Make a killer cherry icing that goes great on loaf cakes, cinnamon buns, or some homemade doughnuts. Most glazes are made of a combination of powdered sugar, liquid (usually water or milk) and occasionally butter. To make cherry icing, find a simple icing recipe, like this one from The Spruce Eats, and replace the liquid with Amarena cherry syrup. Mix as directed in the recipe. For an even more ridiculously simple Cherry Glaze recipe, whisk two cups of powdered sugar with one quarter cup of Amarena syrup, and pour.
Pancakes and waffles
Prepare to kick yourself when you realize you haven’t been doing this with every post-prime jar of cherries. Amerena Cherry syrup is already syrup, and you know who loves to be covered in syrup? Pancakes and waffles (no judgment on your other non-food syrup applications). You can instantly add a blast of tart cherry flavor along with a maple syrup-like coating by drizzling a few tablespoons of cherry syrup over your pancakes.
You can also add the syrup directly to your pancake or waffle batter. This approach will yield a lovely, rose-tinted breakfast. To make it, replace the sugar in the recipe with an equal amount of Amarena cherry syrup when mixing the batter. Even though it’s a liquid replacing a dry ingredient, most recipes call for a relatively small amount of sweetener, and it won’t affect the consistency. Keep in mind that the cherry flavor will be very light (this method is mostly for the cute pink color), so I recommend topping these hot cakes with a little cherry syrup too.
Boost fresh cherry fruit filling
I make a mad dash for my pie plate when fresh cherries are in season. Perfectly ripe fruit provides unmatched flavor, but somehow I always get at least one bag of not-so-flavorful cherries. If you find yourself in a similar situation, or it’s winter and all you can get are frozen cherries, leftover Amarena syrup can add some “ripeness” to your fruit. After you prepare your cherry filling, add one tablespoon of cherry syrup for every cup of filling. Stir it into the mixture to coat the cherries just before you pour it into the cooking vessel. Bake as usual.
You might start calling yourself a mixologist once you do this a few times, and I won’t stop you. Amarena cherry syrup is an excellent alternative to simple syrup in many cocktails. It’s (obviously) sweet, but unlike simple syrup, it brings a tart, slightly bitter, cherry flavor that adds a twist to moody spirits like whisky or dark rum, but it’s bright enough to jazz up citrusy cocktails. For a subtle cherry edge, add a half an ounce of Amarena cherry syrup to cocktails like an old fashioned, side car, negroni, or Manhattan. To make cherry more of a star, add a full ounce to cocktails like a cosmopolitan, margarita, or aperol spritz. Generally, anywhere you use sweet vermouth or maraschino cherries is a safe place for Amarena syrup to join the party.
This cocktail recipe is on the fruity and citrusy end of the spectrum. It’s great for a casual afternoon entertaining some friends paired with fruit and spreadable cheeses. It certainly adds a little zip to a summer day but can be modified depending on if you’ll need to walk down a flight of stairs in the near future or not. You can also batch the first two ingredients and store in the fridge in advance. When you’re ready, pour three ounces over ice before filling with bubbly.
Boozy Cherry Lemonade
- 2 ounces Limoncello
- 1 tablespoon Amarena cherry syrup
- 4 ounces Prosecco (for lower alcohol version fill glass with club soda instead)
- Lemon wheel garnish
Fill a rocks glass or highball glass with ice cubes. In a cocktail shaker, add ice, Limoncello and cherry syrup. *Shake for a few seconds. Strain contents over ice. Fill with Prosecco or club soda.
*If you do not have a shaker, you can pour these two ingredients into an empty glass and stir vigorously, then add the ice.
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