Basil is usually treated as a two dimensional commodity, which is upsetting for our sensitive friend. It’s the shining star in pesto, the uniting factor in the group of pine nuts and Parmigiano, and trying to make caprese without basil is trying to conduct a chorus without harmony. It’s like John Daker singing “Amore.” It just doesn’t work, does it?
Still, basil is pretty under appreciated for what it really brings to the table. It’s asked to creep behind the veil of the savory, only being offered a supportive role when it was born to lead. If you look at what basil lends to the flavor of any particular dish, it becomes glaringly obvious how underused it is.
Sweets, man. Basil is sweet, and while its herbal sister, mint, has found glory in ice cream, candy and other sugary applications, basil is left wading in a murky red puddle of marinara and despair, seething. Basil gets no respect. But nobody puts basil in the corner. Nobody.
Recently I did a guest post for Stark Bros on Blueberry Basil Meyer Lemonade (Shout out to me!), but thought, why not chocolate? So I put it in this chocolate cake. That’s…actually the whole story. It’s anticlimactic, but what do you want from me?
Hey genius, how about a few basil facts? Some Eastern cultures — such as in Hinduism with holy basil — revere basil as an herb of love, said to be from the gods. Sometimes it’s placed in the hand or mouth of the dead to ensure their ascension into heaven, or God. For some European cultures — namely the ancient Greeks — it was believed to be the herb of Satan.
Keats once wrote a poem about a woman, Isabella, who mourned her murdered lover, Lorenzo, by putting his head into a pot with basil and filled it daily with her tears. Me? I put it in cake and then in my stomach because, unlike Isabella, I’m not dist-herbed. Can I get a high five?
Did you know that dogs can eat basil because it isn’t toxic for them? True story! But chocolate is! Sorry, dogs!
There are additional beliefs that basil can bring wealth if you carry it in your pocket, and others that say it will cause you to develop scorpions in your brain and die. Like, literal scorpions. In your brain.
Whatever you believe, know this: chocolate and basil combined is awesome. Chocolate and dogs combined is tragic.
I really don’t want to detract from this post, because…well, did you see that chocolate basil cake? It’s flippin’ awesome. So make sure to love all up on it, as this is just kind of an extension of the chocolate cake post that came about last minute. It’s an extension of that post in the same way wooden legs are an extension of a real leg. Like, you didn’t originally intend for your real leg to be extended by a plank, it just sort of happened.
Full disclosure: I don’t have a wooden plank leg, but if I did, I would probably start tap dancing. Except instead of tap dancing, it’d be more like tap clomping. Like a clydesdale. On account of the wooden leg.
Anyway, this is my first giveaway!
- You must subscribe to this blog on the right hand side with a valid email. You can’t win if you don’t subscribe with a valid email!
- You must comment below saying what you would use the gift card on.
- By LIKING Yum and Yummer on Facebook.
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Please note that this contest is only open to US residents at this time.
CONTEST IS CLOSED. Congratulations to the winner, Denise, who is going to put the $50 gift card toward a dutch oven!
CHOCOLATE BASIL CAKE
[print_this]Recipe: Chocolate Basil Cake
Preparation time: 40 minute(s)
Cooking time: 40 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 12
For the Fudge Cake (adapted from Ina’s Beatty’s Chocolate Cake recipe)
- 2 cups of flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup chilled buttermilk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 large, free range eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 packet Starbucks Via dissolved in 1 cup of near-boiling water
For the Basil Swiss Buttercream Frosting
- 1 cup packed basil leaves
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 3 sticks of unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
- 4 egg whites
- Pinch of cream of tartar
For the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- 3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 9 oz semisweet chocolate
For the Chocolate Fudge Cake
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line four 8″ cake pans (or two if not divvying up into two cakes) with parchment paper, and lightly grease and dust with cocoa powder.
- In a bowl, sift and whisk together all the dry ingredients and set aside. In a stand mixer, combine eggs, buttermilk, and oil and whisk together until just combined. Using the paddle attachment, start mixing the wet ingredients on low speed while slowly adding the dry ingredients, ensuring all is properly incorporated.
- Add the cup of coffee and mix until just combined. Remove bowl from mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom with a rubber spatula, ensuring any hidden clumps of dry ingredients are found and dealt with. The batter will have a very thin consistency.
- Pour half of the batter, roughly 2 1/2 cups, into each prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick is inserted and comes out dry. Allow cake to cool for about 15 minutes and then flip them over onto a wire rack to continue to cool while you make the basil Swiss buttercream filling.
For the Basil Swiss Buttercream Frosting
- In a small saucepan, heat heavy whipping cream until near boiling, but do not bring to a full boil. Remove from heat, add cup of basil leaves to hot heavy cream and allow it to steep for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Once the heavy cream has cooled to room temperature, remove basil leaves, making sure to squeeze them of their juice into the heavy cream, and discard basil leaves.
- Whip basil cream with a wire whisk until stiff peaks form.
- In your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the butter on medium speed for 3 minutes or until light yellow and fluffy. Add basil cream and continue to beat together until fully incorporated.
- Combine sugar and egg whites in a *clean, dry heat proof bowl and set over a pan of water on medium to medium-low heat. Heat up the egg whites while stirring frequently, but not whipping them, until the sugar dissolves and the whites register at 160 degrees on a candy thermometer, making sure to not raise the heat on the stove too much otherwise the eggs will start to cook, which is not what you want. Remove from heat, add pinch of cream of tartar and beat eggs with the wire whisk attachment on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes, or until stiff, glossy peaks form. *It is important to use a clean bowl when mixing the egg whites, as well as clean beaters, otherwise they will not form stiff peaks and you will have to start over.
- Remove bowl from mixer and mix basil buttercream into whipped egg whites one half cup at a time until all the buttercream has been added to the whipped egg whites.
For the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- In a double boiler melt the semisweet chocolate and set aside to cool slightly.
- In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the butter on medium speed until yellow and fluffy.
- Turn mixer on low and slowly add chocolate, mixing for 1 to 2 minutes until fully incorporated. *If the buttercream frosting is too runny, place in fridge for 5 to 10 minutes and then stir. Do not leave in fridge for longer or it will solidify.
- Using four squares of parchment, place them around the edge of a cake stand or plate so they cover the edge of the plate and rest about ½ inch underneath where the cake
- Place bottom half of cake the cake stand over the parchment and spread ¾ of the basil buttercream frosting on top of it. Place second half of cake on top of the buttercream, and use the remaining ¼ basil buttercream to even out the sides where any gaps of buttercream might be missing, so the cake has no indents on the sides.
- Using a flat, steel icing spatula, place 2/3 of the chocolate buttercream mixture on top of the cake and spread evenly, across the top and over the sides. Do not spread too thinly on the cake, as this will make crumbs end up in your frosting. Spread over the cake in a thick layer and even out as you go along, scraping off excess as needed.
- Carefully remove parchment from under the cake (use a paring knife to slide between the bottom of the cake and the parchment and wiggle each square out slowly).
- Serve it up!