Sarah Kieffer's recipe for "Chocolate Basil Brownies" piqued my curiosity, but I was reluctant to give the recipe a try. The combination of chocolate and basil just seemed a bit out there, and Kieffer even offers an easy way out, suggesting a substitution of mint for the basil if "basil isn't your thing." But what finally pushed me to try the recipe was a bumper crop of basil in our garden, just there for the picking.
The brownies have three components: Kieffer's "My Favorite Brownies," a basil-infused ermine buttercream, and chocolate ganache. First, I baked, cooled, and chilled the brownies. Then I steeped basil leaves in a mixture of milk and half-and-half, bringing the mixture to a simmer and chilling it for a few hours before squeezing all of the liquid out of the leaves. I combined the infused cream/half-and-half with sugar, flour, and salt; brought the mixture to a boil; and cooked it until thickened. Then I went slightly off script from the recipe.
The recipe says that you should cool the flour mixture and gradually add it in to softened butter. I have always done the reverse to make ermine buttercream, and I decided to stick with the method I know. So I put the hot cooked flour mixture into the bowl of my stand mixer and beat it until completely cool (this usually takes about 10 minutes -- I just set a kitchen timer, walk away, and do something else to pass the time while the mixer is running); gradually incorporated softened butter; beat the frosting until it was light and fluffy; and added vanilla. I spread the buttercream on top of the brownies and chilled the brownies again before topping them off with a ganache made from dark chocolate and heavy cream.
Recipe: "My Favorite Brownies" and "Chocolate Basil Brownies" from 100 Cookies by Sarah Kieffer, recipe available here (without the ingredient weights, ugh) at Edible Nashville.
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