[Photograph: @sstiavetti]

I'm not a huge fan of drinking liquor, but when it comes to cooking with it, I don't think you'll find a bigger fan. My boozing and schmoozing days are long behind me—what I would give to reclaim my early-20s liver!—but I'm completely in love with the way alcohol can add some much-needed complexity to almost any food. And if done right, anyone nibbling on your dish will be swept away by its intoxicating flavor while not being able to figure out your secret ingredient.

This jam is no different. Sweet Mandarin oranges are cooked down to a gently bitter marmalade, and lemon verbena provides background vocals with its signature sunny, floral notes. To take this recipe a step further, we've invited Campari to the party, whose cherry blush provides a layer of flavor crafted perfectly for this combination.

This soft, comforting marmalade is like none you've ever had. I prefer to leave in the orange zest for a touch of texture, but feel free to leave it out if you want a perfectly smooth preserve.

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Mandarin Lemon Verbena Marmalade with Campari »

About the author: Stephanie Stiavetti is a writer and cookbook author in San Francisco. Stephanie's cookbook, Melt: the Art of Macaroni and Cheese, celebrates America's favorite dish by recreating it with small production, specialty cheeses. Her food blog, The Culinary Life, is a repository for all things comfort food related, from savory dinners to transcendental desserts.

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