Just  got one of these:

Cuisinart 1-1/2-Quart Automatic Ice Cream Makers

Can’t wait to test it out…

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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.

I have a few posts in the pipeline (after long absence!), and hadn’t planned to post today, but then I saw it was National Cheesecake Day, so had to share!

Fourth of July Cheesecake

Fourth of July Cheesecake

This was something I threw together for our 4th of July party – I had fresh blueberries, raspberry jam, and cream cheese left over from another project – so of course this came to mind!

Fourth of July Cheesecake

Adapted from ‘Raspberry-Almond Cheesecake’, in Cheesecake Madness, by John J. Segreto

Crust

1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped mixed nuts
1/4 cup granulated sugar
6 TB (3 oz) sweet butter, softened

Filling

1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp almond extract

Topping

1 cup raspberry preserves (I used seedless)
2 cups fresh blueberries

Equipment: 9-inch springform pan

Crust:  Combine all ingredients and blend well with fingers, fork, or pastry blender.  Press or pat the mixture onto the bottom and sides of a well-buttered springform pan.  Chill in fridge or freezer for about 30 minutes.

Filling: In a large bowl, beat all ingredients until very smooth and creamy.  Pour into chilled pan.  The recipe recommends a water bath (waterproof the bottom of the springform pan and place it into a larger pan containing 1″ hot water), but I think this time I just used cake strips.  Bake in preheated 325F oven for 1.5 hours.  Transfer the cake to a wire rack and allow to cool for 2 hours.

Topping:  Spread preserves evenly over top of cake, then decorate with blueberries.  Carefully remove cake from pan and transfer to a serving dish.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Slice of summery heaven

Slice of summery heaven

I’ve had this cookbook for years, and have found many winners in it (especially the cheesecake base in ‘Cranberry Cheesecake’, page 56.  Oh my gosh, is that a fantastically light and fluffy cheesecake).  I’ve been meaning to stretch out and try new recipes, so chose this one.

I’d have to say it’s more toward the New York end of things (dense and kind of … dense) than I prefer.  I like cheesecake light and creamy – almost airy.  Otherwise, who can eat a whole slice?  This was a little dense and had that almost chalky feel to it that NY style cheesecake gets.  So if that’s your thing, go for it!  Otherwise, use the cranberry cheesecake recipe 🙂