Typically, celebrations are what call us to make cake, but Molly Yeh’s Chocolate Cake with Basil Mascarpone Buttercream Frosting calls for a celebration of its own.
The first time I tried to make this cake I failed so hard. It was the classic error of poorly greased cake pans that led to the cake’s demise. I tried every trick in the book to rescue the cakes, but sometimes you just have to call it and pour a glass of wine.
I went ahead and fed the cake fail to my bookclub and we all agreed that it was so damn delicious. The chocolate cake is so moist, fluffy and just beautiful to look at. It’s perfectly rich, packed with flavor and goes so well with the basil mascarpone buttercream. I’ve never been one to have a big sweet tooth and I love the way this lightly frosted cake is just the right amount of sweet without sending you to the moon and back.
So I quickly got over myself and I made it again. I slowed down, greased and floured my pans, put a layer of parchment paper down and voila, the cakes just about jumped out of the pans themselves. It’s so much easier to frost a cake that hasn’t been forced and far more enjoyable I might add.
The result is this big beauty you see here - two layers of chocolate perfection with a layer of buttery, sweet basil frosting in between. While basil should technically not be in season here in Nashville and is likely not in season where you are, I highly recommend you earmark and adopt Molly’s chocolate cake recipe as the foundation for all your future chocolate cake needs. Either that, or you can join me in experimenting with Rosemary Mascarpone Buttercream Frosting this fall while I await the rebirth of more basil next summer.
Oh, and one more thing! If you haven’t already, pick up a copy of Molly’s new cookbook, Molly on the Range! It’s a work of art that’s laugh out loud funny and is the perfect gift for the foodie in your life.
This recipe for Chocolate Cake with Basil Mascarpone Buttercream Frosting is not actually in the book, but you’ll find it on her blog, My Name is Yeh, amidst dozens of incredibly tasty and creative dishes that all seem to have the perfect twist.
I hope you enjoy Molly’s recipe as much as I do!
Molly’s Chocolate Cake with Basil Mascarpone Buttercream Frosting
Recipe by Molly Yeh of My Name is Yeh
For the cake:
- 1 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1 cup whole milk (or buttermilk)
- 1 tb vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup boiling water
For the frosting:
- 10 fresh basil leaves, torn
- 2 sticks unsalted butter
- 8 oz. mascarpone
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- Pinch of kosher salt
- Optional: Basil leaves for garnish
For the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
- Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms of each with a layer of parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. Then, in a medium bowl, whisk together all the wet ingredients except the boiling water.
- Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and then stir in the boiling water.
- Pour into the cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Begin checking for doneness at 28 minutes.
- Let cool in the pans for at least 10 minutes, then turn the cakes onto a lightly greased cooling rack.
For the Frosting:
- Muddle the basil leaves in a medium saucepan. Add the butter and melt over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring often, for 15 minutes.
- Strain out the basil leaves and transfer the butter to a bowl. Freeze for 5-10 minutes or until it’s partially firmed up.
- Transfer the butter to a large mixing bowl and give the butter a few folds so that it’s evenly creamy. (If it’s still too soupy, stick back in the freezer for a few minutes and try stirring again.)
- Once creamy, beat the butter with the mascarpone and gradually mix in the powdered sugar and salt.
- Once your cakes are fully cooled, level them.
- Place one layer on a cake board or stand and spread a thick layer of frosting on top. Place the other layer on top of that.
- Using an offset spatulate, frost the cake smoothly all over. Decorate with basil leaves and enjoy!