I’ve never had luck trying to grow basil. It just never works for me. This year, one of the guys at the farmers market suggested I plant basil in 12-inch pots. I did. Today, two pots sitting in last summer’s square-foot garden hold basil that look like very lush, healthy shrubs. I just can’t believe it.
I pluck fragrant leaves from my basil plants everyday, layering them into sandwiches, tearing them to arrange over the top of homemade pizza, chopping them up to make fresh herb-flecked cream cheese spread and even steeping them in hot liquid to turn into jelly.
I recently discovered how well spicy-perfumed basil and sweet-tart ruby-red raspberries work together. Macerating raspberries with basil and a small amount of sugar produces a surprising treat for the taste buds. The longer the mixture is allowed to sit, the stronger the essence of basil will become. Basil-infused raspberry sauce is a unique topping for ice cream, waffles, French toast and is a delicious addition to a morning bowl of thick yogurt and homemade granola.
Yesterday, I stirred some Raspberry-Basil Sauce into a Chambord-spiked bowl of cheesecake batter. The resulting cake delivers an aromatic bouquet of fresh raspberries and basil with each forkful of creamy decadence. You won’t taste basil in the cake, but you will luxuriate in its refreshing sweet scent.
I like to top cheesecake with a mixture of melted chocolate and sour cream. It stays soft when refrigerated. It won’t crack when you slice into the cake like some chocolate toppings.
I stirred in a tablespoon of Chambord, a raspberry liqueur, to add depth of flavor. But, if you don’t have a bottle in your cabinet, don’t feel you must run out to buy one. It’s a little expensive. But, if you do buy a bottle, you’ll most certainly want to use some of it to make Chambord Brownies that I posted last summer. You can get to that recipe by clicking here. Or, how about Chocolate Raspberry Martinis? Right here
The crust for this cake is made with crushed or ground almond biscotti. That’s only because I had a bag of biscotti that my husband brought back for me when he was in Duluth for meetings. Feel free to use 2 cups of your favorite crumbs.
Raspberry-Basil Cheesecake is rich and velvety smooth. It’s pretty. And, it’s delicious — an exquisite way to make use of fresh basil.
- 1 pound red raspberries
- 1/2 cup loosely-packed coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 cups ground almond biscotti (about 9 ounces biscotti)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 sour cream
- 1 tablespoon Chambord
- Squirt of fresh lemon juice
- 10 or 12 extra raspberries, for garnish
- 2 ounces fine quality milk chocolate (I used Lindt Excellence Extra Creamy)
- 2 ounces fine quality dark chocolate (I used Ghirardelli Intense Dark Twilight Delight 72% cacao)
- 1/2 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a flat-bottomed glass bowl, mash sauce ingredients together. A hand-held potato masher works well. Set aside while preparing cake. (This can be done several hours before making the cheesecake.)
Mix crumbs, sugar and melted butter for crust. Press onto bottom and sides of ungreased 9-inch springform pan. Bake 10 minutes. Set on wire rack to cool.
Pour raspberry mixture into a fine-mesh sieve placed over a bowl. Use a spoon or rubber spatula to push the mixture through the sieve. Discard berry pulp, seeds and basil remaining in the sieve. Measure out 2/3 cup of the sauce to stir into cake batter. Store remaining sauce in refrigerator until serving time.
For filling, beat cream cheese, sugar, eggs, sour cream, Chambord and lemon juice until very smooth and fluffy. Add the reserved 2/3 cup raspberry-basil sauce. Blend well. Pour into prepared crust. Bake 60 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
To make Topping, melt chocolate in small, heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in sour cream until completely blended into the chocolate. Spread on cooled cheesecake. Refrigerate several hours. Cut into wedges. Garnish with reserved raspberry-basil sauce, fresh raspberries and sprig of fresh basil. Makes 10 to 12 servings.
Tips from the cook
- It’s not a bad idea to put a baking sheet or large piece of aluminum foil on the rack below the baking cheesecake. There may be a few butter drips from the springform pan.
- Raspberry-Basil Sauce turns Almond Peach Cakes into an elegant dessert. Find the recipe for the sweet little cakes in my column this week.