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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Basil Treats

I realize it's a bit late in the year for these, since it's now frigid cold outside, but I did still see bags of fresh basil available at the local Co-op. For these two recipes, I used a large bunch of basil purchased at the farmers' market, probably half as big as my head. I've had herb and flower-flavored ice creams in the past, but the more immediate catalyst for my foray into basil desserts was a pair of French macarons I bought from Two Tarts Bakery's booth in the Portland Farmers' market. The first, purchased in early July, was a basil macaroon with fresh strawberry buttercream filling. It was transporting. In September, they still had the basil macaroons, but filled with basil buttercream. Strawberries no longer being readily available, this is the version I tried to re-create.

I started with Tartelette's basic macaron recipe, as published on Bakerella, then adapted for my circumstances (unground almonds) and preferences (basil!).
Basil Macaroons with Basil Buttercream

90 grams aged egg whites (from not-the-freshest eggs, at room temperature)
2 T granulated sugar
110 g blanched slivered almonds
200 g powdered sugar
pinch salt
leaves from 2-3 stems of basil (I used more than this, and they were very very strong)

Beat egg whites until foamy, then gradually add granulated sugar and keep beating until it forms a glossy meringue. The peaks should be fairly stiff, but it should still be shiny and wet-looking.

Process remaining four ingredients in food processor until almonds are finely ground and basil manifests itself as tiny green flecks.

Fold almond mixture into meringue, without being too gentle--you don't want little peaks to stand up when you squeeze the batter from the pastry bag onto the cookie sheet.

Put batter in a large ziploc bag or pastry bag and squeeze 1.5" circles onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Let batter-filled sheets sit at room temperature for an hour before baking at 300 degrees for 20 minutes. Let cool completely before peeling off parchment.

Make your favorite buttercream (I'm not entirely happy with mine yet), only make it in the food processor or mini-prep, and add the leaves of a sprig or two of basil.

Basil Ice Cream
adapted from Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream and Dessert Book

2 large eggs (or 3-6 yolks, if you want to save the whites for the macaroons)
3/4 C sugar
2 C heavy cream
1 C milk
pinch salt
leaves from half a large bunch (about 6 stems) of basil

Put cream in a small saucepan and bring to a bare simmer. Submerge basil, remove pan from heat, and let steep 30 minutes. Strain, pressing leaves to get all the cream, then set aside to cool.

While the basil-cream mixture is steeping, whisk eggs (or yolks) until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Gradually add sugar and salt and keep whisking until completely blended, light yellow and glossy. Whisk in milk, then transfer mixture to a medium-size saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture reaches 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Whisk into cream, let whole mixture cool (I sometimes speed this part of the process by nestling the bowl in a larger bowl filled with crushed ice), then refrigerate in the coldest part of your refrigerator overnight. The next day, freeze in an ice cream maker. Makes about a quart.

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Blogger Stella said...

OMG. Those look amazing. My favorite part of summer is Basil.

November 28, 2010 at 7:15 PM  

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