I know, the title doesn’t make any sense at all, but it certainly got your attention, right? I mean, the fact that you’re reading this could indicate that
a) You like cupcakes. (who doesn’t?)
b) You like basil. (Again, who doesn’t?)
c) You like weird flavour combos. (only me, I presume)
My guess is that it is probably (or should I say hopefully?) a combination of the three. So whatever your reason may be for visiting this post , welcome and be prepared to witness something truly spectacular!
Let me say that again: basil cupcakes!
Basil is often considered the King of Herbs when it comes to savory dishes. So much so that I truly believe our love for Italian cuisine is solely derived from Italy’s multitude of basil-flavoured dishes; pesto being the crown jewel of Italian cuisine.
However, because we all love basil in savory dishes so much, we tend to overlook how brilliant it tastes in sweet dishes.
Yes, sweet dishes! Whether it’s ice- cream, crème brulée, brownies or a dainty tart, the fragrant freshness of basil can lift all of these already lovely desserts up to a whole other level!
So forget about pesto or salad caprese! Give your basil the spotlight it truly deserves and for once use the leaves in a very summery dessert!
Like this one, for instance. I got my inspiration from one of my favourite summer salads: a fresh peach, mozzarella and basil salad sprinkled with toasted pine nuts. So in a wave of culinary brilliance I thought to myself: “Wouldn’t it be totally awesome if I could make a sweet version of this salad?”
And this is what I came up with: a basil and white peach cupcake!
At this point I still wanted to find a way to include pine nuts and any Italian cheese( let’s be honest: mozzarella in a sweet cupcake would have been too weird) and after some mindboggling brain activity, I had the most wonderful epiphany: a mascarpone cream, sweetened with honey and topped with crunchy pine nuts!
Eureka! Don’t they just look delicious? They tasted delicious as well, I might add. The basil is truly the star of this dessert and its herby freshness blends so well with the juicy sweetness of the peach. Add to that the smooth and comforting mascarpone cream, the delicious hint of honey in the back of your mouth and that lovely bit of bite from the pine nuts, and what you have is the most deliciously sweet taste of summer imaginable! Even Roman Gods would descend from their clouds and make their way to my tiny Belgian kitchen to taste one of my God-almighty cupcakes!
So if you’re ready to let the sunshine in, here is the recipe
Ingredients (makes 10 cupcakes)
• 120gr plain flour
• 140gr caster sugar
• 1 ½ tsp baking powder
• Pinch of salt
• 40gr unsalted butter
• 120ml whole milk
• 1 egg
• 6 tbsp fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
• 2-3 white peaches
For the mascarpone frosting
• 250gr mascarpone
• 4 tbsp honey
• Toasted pine nuts to decorate
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a bowl and mix on low speed until you get a sandy consistency.
3. Whisk together the egg, milk and basil and gradually pour the mixture into the flour mixture. Continue beating until well incorporated.
4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cupcake tin and cut the peaches into moon- shaped wedges.
5. Layer each cupcake with 4 wedges . Try to create some kind of flower pattern. If this doesn’t really work, no biggy, just put the wedges on top any way you like.
6. Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean.
7. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tin before turning out onto a wire cooling rack.
8. Meanwhile, whisk together the honey and mascarpone for the frosting. Once the cupcakes are cold, spoon a quenelle of mascarpone cream on top of each cupcake and finish with a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts .
9. Optional: decorate the cupcakes with sugared basil leaves. Brush some basil leaves with a thin coating of egg white and sprinkle with caster sugar. Shake off any excess. Let them dry for at least one hour, this will make the leaves stiffen.