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Croatian Cherry Cake with Maraschino Liqueur

I'm sure that the word "maraschino" evokes images of unnaturally-colored red orbs of syrupy sweetness drowned in a pool of ginger ale or something equally sweet. At least that's what it did for me. I was transported to glasses of Shirley Temples at family weddings and celebrations. And I was more than happy to disabuse myself of that tonight.

Maraschino (marr-ə-SKEE-noh) is a bittersweet, clear liqueur flavored with Marasca cherries, which are originally from Dalmatia (Croatia). Today, most marascas grow around Torreglia, near Padua in Northern Italy, where the liqueur is distilled.

The liqueur's distinctive flavor comes from the Marasca cherries and the crushed cherry pits; honey is also part of the ancient recipe. The distillate matures for at least two years in ash vats since that wood does not lend its color to the liqueur, and, then, it's diluted and sugared. It is typically bottled in a straw-coated bottle.

For the cake, I started with this recipe.

1-1/2 C white whole wheat flour
1/2 C chestnut flour
2-½ t baking powder
4 whole eggs, separated
1 C organic granulated sugar
1 C plain whole milk yogurt
½ C olive oil
1 t pure vanilla extract
2 C pitted cherries

Butter and flour the baking pan and preheat the oven to 400 F.

In a medium bowl, mix the flours and baking powder together. In larger bowl, beat together the egg yolks and sugar.
Add the yogurt to the egg and sugar and beat some more. After the yogurt is mixed in, add the oil and vanilla and continue beating.

Gently stir in the dry ingredients.

In a third bowl, beat the egg whites until they hold peaks. Fold the egg whites into the batter and pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the cake for 5 minutes in the 400 F oven. At the end of 5 minutes, carefully slide the cake out on the oven rack. Don’t remove it from the rack. Place the cherries around on the surface of the cake and slide the rack and pan back into the oven. Bake it for another  30 minutes until the cake is firm. When done, remove cake from the oven. Cool the cake in the pan.

Serve with a cordial of Maraschino.


  1. That sounds so good. I love baking with cherries, but I never heard of Maraschino liqueur....I always use Kirsch, but now I am going to look for Maraschino :)


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