I'm back! Ha, has November been a crazy month or what?! Thank you all for your questions on the "Ask Away" post last week--I'll start answering them coming up later this week, so you still have a little bit more time to submit your questions.
But this post isn't about me. Nope. This post is about something far more awesome: my Adopt-A-Blogger mentees: Ari and Anita from Braised Anatomy. It's exciting for me to have officially "graduated" into mentorshiphood, though I have to say, it took a bit of a push out of the nest (so to speak) from my own mentor, Kristen of Dine and Dish and founder of the Adopt-a-Blogger program. One day, shortly after meeting Kristen at BlogHerFood, she twittered (tweeted? twat? twhat?) me saying that she had the perfect blog adoptees for me, and after seeing Braised Anatomy, there was no way I could say "no." Ari and Anita are med students (like, studying to be proper doctors who can actually save lives, unlike my pretty useless little Ph.D.!), and their blog is just so downright hilarious. They have such a great sense of humor in their writings and musings about food that their posts always bring a huge smile to my face when I see them pop up in my reader feed.
My first memory of their blog was this post on basil syrup and homemade basil soda that happened to be on the front page the first time I visited their site. I'm such a huge fan of herbs in sweets that the idea of sweet basil has been stuck in my head ever since. So, I decided to make a dessert to accompany their basil soda--something that I'd serve Ari and Anita if we weren't on opposite sides of the country, something that we could sink our forks into while sipping bottles of basil soda through striped green straws, sitting on the porch, laughing over nerdy jokes and commiserating about student life. That something: hazelnut and chocolate cakelettes with basil buttercream.
These cakelettes feature a thick layer of dense, flourless dark chocolate cake topped with a layer of hazelnut and dark chocolate meringue, baked right on top of the cake. The roughly-chopped chocolate folded into the meringue develops into these veins of dark chocolate running through the cracks of the hazelnut and meringue. But really, the unifying element to these cakelettes is the basil buttercream. The fragrant sweetness of the basil balances out the darkness of the chocolate beautifully, and the herbal earthiness blends with the nutty hazelnut flavor seemlessly. (It's like dessert pesto!) The basil is a surprising and pleasantly unexpected flavor, and, unlike your traditional mint, it actually doesn't overpower and completely take over the dessert.
So before the recipe, make sure you go and check out Braised Anatomy, Ari and Anita's blog, and support my adoptees by saying "hello!"
Read on for recipe...
Hazelnut and Dark Chocolate Cakelettes with Basil Buttercream
Recipes adapted from Tartelette and Baked Explorations
makes ~eight 3 x 2" cakelettes
10 Tbspn butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
6 eggs, separated
12 oz. dark chocolate, melted and cooled
1 1/2 Tbspn espresso
1 Tbspn vanilla
1/2 tspn salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour the cake molds or tins. Line the bottom with parchment paper and grease again. Set aside.
2. In a mixer bowl, beat the butter and light brown sugar on medium until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Add the egg yolks one at a time to the butter and sugar mixture, beating well between each addition.
4. Beat the melted dark chocolate, espresso, vanilla, and salt into the batter until well-combined.
5. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until soft peaks.
6. Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate batter, then fold the remaining egg whites into the batter just until combined. Be careful not to overmix!
7. Divide the batter evenly amongst the prepared pans. Immediately place in the oven and bake for 15 - 18 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the meringue.
for meringue layer:
2 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
1/2 Tbspn cornstarch
2 egg whites
2 Tbspn sugar
1. Combine the dark chocolate, hazelnuts, and cornstarch
2. Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks, gradually adding the sugar as you whisk.
3. Fold in the hazelnuts and chocolate mixture to the egg whites, being careful not to deflate the whites too much.
4. Remove the chocolate cakes from the oven and spoon the meringue over the chocolate cakes.
5. Return the cakes to the oven for ~15-20 minutes until the meringues are set.
6. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Using a knife, unmold the cakelettes and let cool completely before frosting.
for basil buttercream:
1 cup whole milk
2 large handfuls of basil, roughly shredded
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup AP flour
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 sticks butter, at room temperature
green food coloring, optional
1. In a small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, combine the milk and the basil. Bring to just a simmer, cover, and let steep for ~30 minutes.
2. Strain the basil from the milk and discard the basil. Set the milk aside.
3. Whisk together the sugar and flour in a saucepan. Gradually whisk in the prepared basil milk and the cream, making sure that there are no clumps.
4. Cook the flour and milk mixture over medium heat until it boils and thickens, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer into a bowl.
5. Beat with a paddle attachment on high until the flour and milk mixture is completely cool.
6. With the mixer on low, gradually add the butter. Then, increase speed to medium-high and whip until light and fluffy. (If the buttercream gets too soft, put it in the refrigerator for a few minutes before re-beating.) Briefly beat in a few drops of green food coloring, if desired.
7. Use immediately to frost the cakelettes.