Strawberry Basil Chocolate Cake

As summer comes to a close, I find myself longing for the fruits and herbs most reminiscent of the height of summer..i.e basil and strawberries.

I decided to embark on crafting this unique cake after watching an episode of The Great British Bake Off (one of the best shows on Netflix, in my humble opinion)

This cake is an amazing mix of sweet, bitter, bright and tart. The sweetness derived from the icing perfectly complements the bright taste of the basil and I could not have been happier with the flavor profiles.

I modified this recipe, though, to add more jam to the center layer, since I believed it needed more of the strawberry flavoring to even out the basil frosting.


Strawberry jam filling:

2 cups of strawberries

1 1/2 cups of organic cane sugar

Chocolate Cake:

1 3/4 cups of flour

1 cup of cocoa powder

1 3/4 cups of organic cane sugar

2 teaspoons of baking powder

2 teaspoons salt

2 large eggs

1/2 cup canola oil

1 cup buttermilk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup boiling water


15 Basil leaves, chopped and shredded

1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter

8 oz of mascarpone

3 cups of powdered sugar

pinch of salt



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Get the basil emulsifying with a bit of water in a sauce pan and add the butter. Let simmer for 15 minutes while stirring occasionally. Once they are combined, separate the basil leaves from the butter mixture with a colander. Put the butter mixture in the fridge in a small bowl and wait 10 minutes for it to become smooth and creamy. Next, whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients except for the boiling water. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and add in the boiling water once the two are combined. Grease a cake pan and pour in the cake mixture. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. With the butter cream mixture, add the mascarpone, powdered sugar and salt. While this is mixed and waiting in the fridge, combine the strawberry and sugar with some lemon juice and lemon zest over a sauce pan and let simmer until the mixture is gelatinous and ready to spread in the middle of the two cake layers.

Wait to frost until cake is cooled.


Date Brownies

As an easy and less expensive way to pack in daily amounts of protein and fiber, these brownies take no more than 30 minutes to whip up.


1 cup of dates

3/4 cup of hot water

1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Trader Joe’s Cocoa Powder)

3/4 cup of almond meal (significant source of protein)

5 tablespoons of honey

2 teaspoons of bourbon vanilla (Again, from Trader Joe’s)

Pinch of sea salt


Set the oven to 350 degrees

Combine the hot water and dates in a bowl and let sit for 10 minutes. Drain water from the bowl and pour the dates into a food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy. Add in the almond meal and blend until combined. Do the same with the cocoa powder. Then, add in the honey and vanilla to finish it off. Scoop the mix out of the food processor and press into a brownie pan. Sprinkle sea salt over brownies to complete!



Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Lemon Rhubarb Glaze

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetThis recipe is an absolute quintessential must-have on your summer baking list, but with a twist. The sour lemony glaze on top mixed with the tart rhubarb makes for a perfect finish and completes an otherwise perfect dessert.


For the Crust:

1 Cup all purpose flour

1 Cup cake flour (to make this, if you do not have cake flour on hand, combine 1 cup of flour with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, removing two tablespoons of the flour and replacing with the cornstarch)

3 Tablespoons powdered sugar

1/4 Cup salted butter

1/2 Cup Crisco

1 Egg

2 Tablespoons of white vinegar

1/4 Cup of ice water


For the Filling:

2 1/2 Cups strawberries

2 1/2 Cups rhubarb

1 1/2 Cup sugar

2 Tablespoons cornstarch

1 Tablespoon all purpose flour

1 WHOLE large lemon zest

1 WHOLE large lemon juice

1 Teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 Teaspoon nutmeg

1 Teaspoon vanilla bourbon extract (Trader Joe’s)

1 Egg White


Directions for Crust:

Since I am a firm believer that your hands are your best kitchen tools, I went ahead and used my hands to combine the Crisco, salted butter, flour, cake flour and powdered sugar. Next, whisk the entire egg, vinegar and water together in a separate vessel and pour over the combined flour and butter mixture. Gently knead these ingredients together until just combined and then dust with flour, cover, and leave in fridge while you start on the filling.

Directions for Filling:

Once the crust is put away in the fridge, pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Next, for the filling, I was ecstatic to be able to use fresh locally picked strawberries and rhubarb from my local farmer’s market in Madison. Combine all of the freshly chopped strawberries and rhubarb pieces into a larger bowl and pour the sugar in, along with the lemon, lemon zest, spices, vanilla, cornstarch and flour. Stir these ingredients together and let macerate until everything is combined. By this time, the crust ingredients should be sufficiently chilled and ready to divide into two. Roll the first ball of dough, using flour as needed, for the bottom of the pie. Fill with the fruit mixture and top with the second half of rolled dough to create the top of the pie. Seal the edges and poke holes in the top crust. Seal the rims of the pie with tinfoil and bake the pie at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 and cook for another 40. Remove from oven, let cool for an hour, and enjoy!



Blackberry Lemon Curd Bars

Blackberry Lemon Curd Bars:

For the crust:
1 cup of butter, softened
1/2 cup of sugar (I used Trader Joe’s organic sugar, and would highly recommend :))
2 cups of flour

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Mix these items together in a medium bowl. I use my hands for shortbread type crusts such as this one! I sprayed the bottom of my pan with Trader Joe’s Coconut Spray, but an un-greased pan is perfectly ok, too. Press the dough you have formed into the bottom of the pan. Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the crust is a beautiful golden color.

For the filling:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
3 whole eggs
Juice of 1 whole, large lemon
Zest of 2 lemons
3 tablespoons lemon curd (ok to be generous with the tablespoons. I used Thursday Cottage handmade lemon curd from Whole Foods and would highly recommend this ingredient also)
7-8 whole, ripe blackberries (Whole Foods)
3 table spoons sugar

Whisk together the sugar and flour, then whisk in the eggs, lemon juice, lemon zest, and lemon curd. Once combined, pour into the crust that is hopefully out of the oven by now. In a small pan, combine the 3 tablespoons of sugar with about a half a cup of water to create a simple syrup and let simmer over a low heat. Immediately add in the blackberries and let them reduce. They will break apart and explode their wonderful flavor and color into the pan (yummy!) Once the glaze/puree is thick enough, let cool for just a bit, and then generously speckle the lemon curd mixture you have poured into the crust with the blackberry glaze/puree. If you would like, you can use a strainer to strain out the seeds, but I love the added texture in my bars (not to mention the color!!!)

Bake for around 20-25 minutes.
When will know they are almost finished when the top has a glazed over shiny texture and the edges have created a beautiful deep brown caramelization..amazing!
Pull out of the oven and let cool for about 30 minutes to an hour..depends on if you like them warm or hot right away 🙂

When finished, you know you have succeeded if you see the blackberry glaze/puree integrated throughout the bar allllll the way down until it hits the crust. The crust should also not be crumbly, but soft and almost chewy.

ENJOY! 🙂Dessert