birthday bash basil & chocolate cupcakes

Mel has one of these wonderful cookbooks that is basically just a giant reference of ingredients & flavors that go well with each other. Several months ago, we discovered that chocolate & basil go really well together. I’m sure this isn’t news to quite a few flavor connoisseurs out there, but it was news to us. Back then, Mel used to bake a fresh loaf of bread, we’d pour on a little basil flavored olive oil, and then wrap it all around a chunk of dark chocolate. Incredibly delicious, but not something that I could ever serve up as a dessert.

For a while now I’ve been reading a blog called Desserts for Breakfast, and whilst going through the archives I’d found a dessert that incorporated the chocolate & basil flavors. It was an amazing reminder of all those nights spent standing over the sink engorging on the fresh bread, and as it turns out it was great inspiration for me since I already knew these flavors worked really well together. Her version of the dessert was beautiful, but a little too fancy for an out door bbq, still, I decided I wanted to be a little adventurous with the desserts at my birthday bbq. Yea, sure, everything I made was cupcakes, and really how adventurous are those…. but, I could at least play with the flavors right?

I figured a basic chocolate cupcake was a good starting point, that was easy & needed no research, I have a few recipes stored away. With this one I recommend that you head straight for your most loved chocolate cupcake recipe you have in your stash. I say this because I’m not sharing a chocolate cupcake recipe today. I’m sharing a recipe for a basil swiss buttercream. I’m getting ahead of myself though. I started looking up basil buttercreams, & the problem with most of them that I found, was that they involved boiling milk & flour together until it thickened. I’ve tried a recipe like that before & found that it wasn’t particularly nice. The problem here was, how to infuse the basil without actually having any basil leaves in the end result. There was only one logical solution here, I was going to have to make my own basil butter. It’s not as hard as it sounds, it just makes me look really cool. On that note, I think it’s time to share how I did it.

…by the way, this was my favorite picture of yesterday. This is Julia by the way, she’s a little weird.

Ingredients, butter:
– 2 handfuls basil
– 350g heavy cream

Directions:
1. slice the basil leaves thinly & place in a pot with the heavy cream.
2. bring the mixture to a boil & then remove from the heat, allow the leaves to steep for 30 minutes or until completely cooled.
3. strain the basil leaves out of the cream & place the cream in the fridge until chilled.
4. use an electric mixer or handheld mixer to beat the cream, this may take a while. As you continue to beat the cream, it will begin to thicken & turn into whipped cream. If you continue to beat past this point, the cream will break & begin to separate.
5. as liquid begins to pool in the bottom of the bowl, stop the mixer & pour out the liquid. Return to beating until more liquid separates, once enough has separated, drain & repeat. Continue on this way until the butter becomes smooth & no more liquid drains.
6. voila, basil butter.

Now that you have made your own butter I’m sure you feel pretty satisfied with yourself. I did. I bragged about it. Enough of my bragging though, that butter needs to be turned into a swiss basil buttercream.

Ingredients, buttercream:
– 3 medium egg whites
– 120g sugar
– 250g basil butter
– green food colouring

Directions:
1. put the egg whites & sugar into a heat proof boil & place it over a pot of simmering water.
2. whisk the whites until all the sugar has dissolved (you can test this by touching the bottom of the bowl with your finger to feel for sugar)
3. remove from the heat & transfer to another bowl.
4. change to an electric mixer & whisk until the egg whites are completely cool.
5. whilst beating, add in the butter one chunk at a time. If the mixture looks like it’s curdling just keep on beating until all the butter has been added in. It will come together & become smooth.
6. once it’s smooth, add food colouring until you reach the desired colour. I prefer a nice subtle shade of green.
7. transfer to a pipping bag & ice your favorite chocolate cupcakes.

…for more recipes from us, check out our archives.

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