Apple-Basil Cake

So, the herb garden continues to chug along, making huge quantities of basil and rosemary and mint and other wonderful baking herbs.

This week I wanted to try something a little more unusual.  I pulled out last week’s book (Desserts from an Herb Garden, by Sharon Kebschull Barrett) and found this recipe on the page right after Lemon-Rosemary Cream Cake.  Fate!

The recipe uses oil for the fat – the first time I made it, I used all Canola oil, but the second time I was running low so I substituted half of it with unsweetened applesauce – something I often do to cut down on fats, plus it’s not like more apple flavor is going to hurt this cake!

Oh, and I sprinkled toasted pecan pieces in the bottom of the pan after I had spray-coated it – the crunch was a nice counterpart to the richness of the cake and the glaze.  And I added a teaspoon of Ceylon Cinnamon to the batter itself, because I think Cinnamon and Apples and Basil all go together.

A closer look at the glaze. Yum!

This cake is moist and dense.  Very flavorful – mostly apple with the occasional bright sparkle of basil.  It freezes well, and I imagine it’ll ship well (I’ll find out!  The second cake is getting shipped to Rhode Island after I freeze it).  My sweetie and I were having people over for dinner, so to dress it up for dessert I made a quick cream caramel sauce (infused with cinnamon stick) and added some Dulce de Leche Gelato.  Ohhhhh, my goodness.  That stepped it up from “really darned tasty” to “OMG; to die for”.

All dressed up for dinner…

What would you pair with it?

Apple-Basil Cake

from Desserts from an Herb Garden, by Sharon Kebschull Barrett

CAKE

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

3/4 teaspoon coarse salt

2 Tablespoons (packed) minced cinnamon basil or sweet basil leaves

1 1/4 cups vegetable oil, preferably canola oil (can use half oil and half unsweetened applesauce)

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

3 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

3 1/2 cups unpeeled, coarsely chopped cooking apples, such as Granny Smiths

1/2 cup toasted pecan pieces [optional]

GLAZE

3 TB unsalted butter

3 TB packed light brown sugar

3 TB granulated sugar

3 TB heavy cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 325F.  Pan-coat a 10-inch removable-bottom tube pan. [Note: you’ll want this – the cake sticks like mad] Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of toasted pecans in the bottom of the pan, if you’re using.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Whisk in basil leaves until thoroughly dispersed in the flour; set aside.  In a large bowl, beat together oil and sugar on low speed.  On medium speed, add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add vanilla and beat on high for 30 seconds.  On low speed, add flour mixture and beat just ’til blended.

Fold in apples; spread batter in prepared pan.  Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.

Just before the cake is done, make glaze: Over med heat, melt butter in a small saucepan and whisk in both sugars, cream, and vanilla.  Boil glaze for 1 minute.

When the cake comes out of the oven, immediately pour the hot glaze over.  Let cake cool completely on a rack before removing from pan.  To remove from pan, run a knife around the edge to release it, then run a think knife between cake and pan bottom; invert to release and invert again to place on platter, so glaze side is up.

12 to 16 servings.

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Chocolate Basil Tartelet

Chocolate Basil Tartelet

We went to the Farmer’s Market yesterday, our first time to the one in Durham.  We’ve lived in Durham for over two years now and never had been – either we go to the one we’re used to in Carrboro (huge and wonderful), or (much more likely) we don’t wake up on Saturday until far too late to bother going at all.

But, we’re still mildly recovering from being five hours ahead of ourselves in Scotland, so we were up bright and early on Saturday, and decided to give it a whirl.

It was much smaller than the one in Carrboro, but also much closer to us, with a good mix of vendors.  We got some mixed greens for stir-frying, a pint each of muscadines and scuppernongs, a loaf of whole-wheat artisinal bread, and a bunch of fresh basil.

Normally, I’d have a huge forest of basil growing out in the herb garden, but this year I didn’t end up planting anything, so all we have are rosemary and sage.  So limiting!  So I couldn’t resist a bunch of delicious-smelling basil.

But, what to do with it?  (Oh, the horror, what a conundrum)  We were planning to go to a Beatles-themed rock band get-together, and I wanted to take something sweet, so I pulled out Desserts From an Herb Garden and found this recipe.  It was delicious!  and a big hit – the hosts had made strawberry sauce for other purposes, which went lovely with these little tarts.

Chocolate Basil Truffle Rounds

from Desserts From an Herb Garden, by Sharon Kebschull Barrett

Ingredients:

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons minced basil leaves
3/4 lb (12 oz)  bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
3 eggs, separated
2 Tablespoons sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350F; butter or grease eight 4-inch removable-bottom tartlet tins (I used disposable tart cups); set tins on baking sheet.

2. Melt butter with basil leaves in the top of a double boiler set over (not touching) barely simmering water.  Add chocolate; stir often until chocolate is melted.  Set aside top pan to cool slightly; mixture will be very thick.

Also, I probably heated more than I should have b/c I kept seeing ‘lumps’, which were actually basil leaf chunks.  oops.

3. In a medium bowl, beat egg whites until they form soft peaks; add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.  In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks until bubbly; whisk into chocolate mixture.  Fold in about 1/4 cup beaten whites to lighten the chocolate mixture, then gently but thoroughly fold in remaining whites.

4. Divide batter among tins.  Bake 15 minutes, until tops have just set (mixture will still be soft in the middle).  Let cool on a wire rack (the puffed tops will fall), then chill, covered, until ready to serve.

I slightly overbaked, hence my non-fallen tops and sort of crumbly texture to finished product.  I’d definitely check after  10 minutes.

5.  To serve, remove tin sides.  With a thin-bladed metal spatula, lift rounds from the bases and transfer to dessert plates.  Serve cold or at room temperature, with a dollop of whipped cream or a small pool of custard sauce (or fruit sauce!); garnish with basil sprigs.