Don’t you look at me with those, “girl.  you’ve got weeeriiirddd taste buds” eyes.  Just don’t.

(a) making faces at people is just rude

and (b) if you sneeze while making that face, your eyes are going to stay that way.  So my momma said about crossing my eyes, rolling them into the back of my head, etc.  And she speaketh the truth (except when she lies to me and, when caught, says “oh really?  did I say that?  doesn’t sound like me.” typical.)


Besides.  I know you spend some nights sitting on your couch with a tub of mint chocolate chip ice cream and a spoon and call it a date night.

(No judgement.)

But really, is basil buttercream so different?


I promise it’s not, especially since when I handed The.Boy. a cupcake without telling him what it was, he swore up and down that it was mint chocolate.  Until I told him it was basil chocolate.

Then he said, “oh yeah.  I guess it does taste like that.”

I totally see where he was coming from, though, because the basil infusion takes the buttercream from being heavy to being light and refreshing.  There’s something a bit herbaceous about it, but in a breath-of-fresh-air kind of way, so maybe you think mint when you first bite in, just because your mouth feels like everything is right in the world.  But then it’s unmistakably basil, the whole rest of the way.



Basil = a leafy green = breakfast appropriate.


Just saying.


Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes 24, adapted from Annie’s Eats


  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp hot water
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks plus 1 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sour cream


  1. Preheat the oven to 350.  Line cupcake tins with paper liners.  In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder and hot water and whisk together until smooth.  Set aside. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Combine the butter and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium high heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is smooth and the butter is totally melted.  Transfer the butter/sugar mix to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium-low until cool, 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition.  Blend in the vanilla and the cocoa mixture until smooth.  Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the sour cream.  Mix after each addition just until incorporated.
  4. Divide the batter evenly into the prepared liners until they are 3/4 full.  Bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool.

Basil Buttercream Frosting
Adapted from vanilla bean 


  • 1 1/2 cups almond milk (or regular milk)
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract


  1. Combine the milk, heavy cream, and basil in a heavy bottomed saucepan.  Heat until simmering, then remove from the heat.  Let cool and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.  Remove the basil leaves from the cream, squeezing any basil juice into them before discarding the basil.
  2. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk the flour and sugar together.  Add the basil milk to the pan and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, 10-15 minutes.
  3. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer.  Beat on high until cool, 7-9 minutes.  Reduce the speed to low and add the butter, one piece at a time.  Mix until thoroughly incorporated.  Increase the speed to medium high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add the vanilla and continue mixing 1-2 minutes.  If the mixture seems too soft and liquidy, put the bowl in the fridge to chill for about 10 minutes and then beat again until it is the correct consistency.  Add a tiny bit of green gel food coloring if green color is desired (I just dipped the back of my fork in my the gel and then dipped it into the frosting and beat to combine.)


You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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103 Responses to Chocolate Cupcakes with Basil Buttercream Frosting

  1. So I definitely ate mint chocolate chip ice cream last night directly from the container while sitting on the couch and watching the Olympics with Mike. Yeah.
    This frosting is beautiful! But I have no doubt that it even tastes 10x better than it looks too!!

  2. it is simply beautiful. Such a tasty picture. It’s amazing.

  3. Simply Life says:

    oh I would definitely eat these for breakfast!

  4. london bakes says:

    Beautiful pictures! I think basil & chocolate is a wonderful combination. Definitely no eyes from me!

  5. Ranjani says:

    I think basil buttercream is a fantastic idea! If this is what you baked for lab meeting, I hope your labmates appreciate you for it!

  6. OohLookBel says:

    That minty, basily green is so gorgeous. I could eat these anytime, including breakfast.

  7. Tandy says:

    perfect for breakfast! I love using herbs with desserts 🙂

  8. Haha, I love how we can get fooled when we don’t know the real ingredient list. I ercently went to a raw ersto where I ate the dip and said, I don’t know what it tastes like but it tastes like what it is supposed to!! It had been so long since I had had cream cheese that I forgotten what to associate the flavours with. 🙂

  9. Beth says:

    How did you know I was giving you that look?

    BTW, by the end of the post you had me sold.

  10. Victoria says:

    You always impress me with delightful and exciting cupcakes! I know I can count on you 😉 These look fantastic!

  11. Barbara says:

    I love cooking with herbs in sweets! This would be fun to try…thought for a minute it was pistachio! 🙂

  12. Eliana says:

    I like how you roll babe! These look awesome. Will most defiitely be giving these a try.

  13. Hi, You should know that basil is in the mint family. I grow mint and basil. Furthermore, I am told that if Thai Holy Basil is not available, you could mix mint and basil half and half. So, wierd? Not!
    But yes, is true if you sneeze with eyes closed they will stay that way ad infinitum. cm

  14. Amy says:

    Basil frosting can’t be any weirder than carrots in cake. And I only judge Paul (when he takes taco meat left overs from one night, grilled fish from another night, mixes them together and sprinkles it all with Greek seasoning), but you? I don’t judge.

  15. wow Jo, this is such a creative cupcake recipe. The frosting sounds and looks amazing.

  16. I totally love it!!! This sounds like a perfect cupcake!!

  17. Danielle says:

    I love it – sounds like a perfect combination!

  18. Wow. Whenever you want to have me over for a cupcake party, just let me know! I would not min trying these or your mango curd cupcakes!!

  19. Jenn Kendall says:

    oh my gosh, this sounds fantastic!! so creative!

  20. Sam says:

    Those look amazing. Too bad I just used up the last of my basil making pesto last night.

    D is on to the “I don’t tell you what’s in it until you’ve tried it” trick now…

  21. bellini says:

    Such a gorgeous colour too and not a mint in sight.

  22. Alisa says:

    Such a novel idea! And I swear I didn’t make a face – though I don’t think I could eat this leafy green for breakfast!

  23. I love chocolate AND basil – so no weird looks from me! These look beautiful!

  24. kyleen says:

    I love how GREEN the frosting is! These cupcakes are adorable.

    And it really does look kind of like mint.

  25. Pam says:

    I would NEVER think to put basil in frosting… you are so darn creative girl! I think they look beautiful and delicious.

  26. Cathleen says:

    Haha, I think that I would eat them for breakfast regardless. This looks fantastic!!
    (I was actually making a face when I read the title. Then stopped to sneeze. True story. I’m easily influenced)

  27. Erica says:

    Beautiful colors! What a delicious combination!Very creative and interesting frosting!

  28. daphne says:

    i would love to try this! i bet it is amazing with the basil flavour and chocolate!

  29. Mary says:

    I love the way you think, Joanne. I so wish I could try just one of these right now. I bet I would love it. I’m a break from baking until my jeans stop hating me, but that sure doesn’t stop me from drooling over your photos!

  30. Elizabeth says:

    The color is gorgeous! I love adding fresh herbs to sweets

  31. La Liz says:

    Basil + Buttercream = Brilliant!!!

  32. These look so yummy. I have never baked with basil but those cupcakes look amazing.

  33. BASIL BUTTERCREAM! I think it’s brilliant.

    And how did you know about that whole mint chocolate chip/date night thing? Are you watching me?

  34. These are so pretty, I love the way you frosted and styled them! I can totally see basil and chocolate working together just as well as mint and chocolate, if not better – I much prefer basil to mint!

  35. Your cupcakes are lovely! So glad you liked the buttercream. It’s still my favorite thing ever. 🙂

  36. Eileen says:

    Yay weird flavor combinations! Really, who doesn’t want basil in everything they eat this time of year anyway? You should do a basil & peach cupcake or crumble next! Salsa in cake form: yes please. 🙂

  37. This is a beauty….
    Really gorgeous… I am so restless now to try this..
    Basil buttercream..YUM

  38. The color of this frosting is stunning. I bet it goes perfectly with the chocolate cupcake!

  39. This is really gorgeous, JO! What an amazing pairing. I would LOVE to try this!!

    Have a lovely weekend, my friend!!

  40. Cupcakes for breakfast?! Yes! And yes, leafy greens are a total breakfast option!

  41. Gloria says:

    Look absolutely delicious and love the color.look awesome:)

  42. the color on these is beautiful!

  43. Carolyn Jung says:

    How gorgeous are these? VERY! And I love basil and other savory herbs in baked goods. Just adds a mysterious flavor that so entices.

  44. I simply won’t rest until I’ve tasted this!! I love your frosting technique, too!

  45. teresa says:

    guuuurl, you’ve got GREAT tastebuds! 🙂 this looks so good, and is rather pretty! i would never think to add fresh herbs to a sweet treat, but it makes total sense. loves it!

  46. I would definitely try one. probably two. But didja have to go and mention there was basil in the frosting?

  47. Kari says:

    Believe me, I am looking at you with eyes that scream admiration. This post sent my heart rate up a few beats just on reading the title – the rest of it didn’t disappoint and I can’t wait to make these 🙂

  48. Guru Uru says:

    Contrast between the basil and chocolate in both colour and flavour looks divine 😀


  49. Johanna GGG says:

    Yes I did give you an odd stare about the basil frosting but then you reminded me it was green and leafy and it sounded intriguing

  50. Lynn says:

    I am intrigued by that – basil buttercream. I like the thought of that as breakfast. Yum.

  51. What a great idea! It looks very pretty and I imagine that the basil pairs very well with the chocolate. I enjoy some herbs in my baked goods sometimes!

  52. I totally love these Joanne,. You dont have weird taste buds. Very interesting method for a butter cream , i want to try this

  53. Weird!! Love that frosting idea. You. Rock. My World.

  54. Pierce says:

    Fresh basil gives such a wonderful flavor, much better than the dried stuff, so this would be a nice flavor combo. I would try it!
    Thanks for checking out the squash 🙂

  55. LOL, I was thinking that my mind would probably tell me it was mint-chocolate, too…just by seeing that soft green against the chocolate. Either way, it wounds fantastic!

  56. Suzi says:

    You are too cool! and so is this basil buttercream frosting. This really sounds fantastic. Gotta try this one out.

  57. Chris says:

    That’s twisted, sister! Basil buttercream – so odd. But once you discuss it, I can totally get it, it makes sense. You are a food adventurer, Ms. B.

  58. Oh man. These are just…I can’t even come up with words to describe the awesomeness. LOVE!

  59. Mary says:

    Joanne, I love the color here. The cupcakes really look delicious and would disappear quickly if left on the table here. Have a wonderful weekend. Blessings…Mary

  60. Slowly, but surely you are going to turn The.Boyfriend into a bonafide foodie!

  61. Candace says:

    omg! That green frosting is gorgeous. My mind definitely thinks mint when I look at it. I’m not even sure what the basil buttercream would taste like; but, pass me a cupcake please. I’m definitely wanting to try it.

  62. Lori says:

    You just blew my mind! Now I’m not thinking it is weird or anything. I can always go for herbs in my sweets, but basil with frosting is brilliant. They look amazing!

  63. Basil might sound weird initially, but when you come to think about it, it’s just the same as mint!! This is an excellent buttercream!! I’d have to try it some day! I’m sure it would taste so refreshing! And the combination with the chocolate cupcakes must be delicious!

  64. Reeni Pisano says:

    These are gorgeous! I love the buttercream! A good way to use up all my backyard basil!

  65. Nothing wrong with your tastebuds, girlfriend – I think basil and chocolate make for a great flavour combination. And I think these would be entirely breakfast appropriate. In fact, I’m convinced that a cupcake is a very nutritionally sound way to begin the day.

  66. I mean it has basil…dark cocoa…eggs…milk…sounds perfectly well balanced to me!

  67. Monet says:

    Delicious, my friend! I think basil buttercream sounds inspired. Not weird, at all! Thank you for sharing your creativity with me.

  68. yesssss! I would never make a weird face at basil buttercream, it sounds brilliant to me! There’s a radio show called Kidd Kraddick In the Morning and once the men and the women had a cookoff and for dessert, the men served jalapeno apple pie with basil ice cream and I was so digging it. I still think that sounds really good! (The men won the competition, by the way.) Anyway, I think I have to try this! I love the look too!

  69. Ahhhh the first thing I thought was “omg-what-a-pretty-green-colour-how-do-I-get-that-into-my-mouth!”

    Basil buttercream does sound a little strange but I could see how it works -totes appropriate for breakfast!

  70. Saguna says:

    What a fantabulous idea! Leafy green buttercream totally warrants this as a (super posh) breakfast. These are SO gorgeous!

  71. RecipeGirl says:

    I must say… I totally want to try one. If I saw that flavor in a cupcake bakery, I’d get it for sure!

  72. Catherine says:

    Dear Joanne, These look so good to me. I would love one. Blessings dearest. Catherine xo

  73. What a treat! I promise I didn’t give you any weird looks. I’m totally into these!

  74. momgateway says:

    Lovely and unique, I’m giving these a try!

  75. Megan says:

    I was really thinking, “Girl, you share my tastebuds!” One of the best desserts I’ve ever had was a chocolate terrine with Thai basil ice cream. I’m all about this chocolate-basil combination!

  76. That Girl says:

    I must have weird tastebuds too because basil buttercream frosting sounds fantastic – and would be equally delicious on a lemon or strawberry cupcake.

  77. Faith says:

    Ha, I love it! Great way to get the boy to eat things he might not otherwise try. Truly a girl after my own heart. 😉

  78. You are so clever and inventive, Joanne. 🙂 LOVE this idea!! Now my mind is whirling with ideas for other herbal infusions. 🙂

  79. Alana says:

    “Basil = a leafy green = breakfast appropriate”, haha, LOVE IT. I also love a good basil infusion too, so, wowzers. You’ve managed to make a cupcake look so fresh, almost even (dare I say) HEALTHY!

  80. Hannah says:

    “Weird”? Please, do you know who you’re talking to here? I think that your readership is well aware of your innovative flavor pairings, and comes back because of them, not in spite of them! Basil and chocolate are fantastic together, and it’s a shame that they aren’t matched up more often. Plus, that pale green hue for the frosting is just lovely.

  81. Cara says:

    Well see now I really want to try this JUST to trick myself out that basil tastes like mint. Interesting frosting recipe, btw, I’ve never come across that method (or using flour as an ingredient!)

  82. Mel B. says:

    Wow! Now I have a way to use the fresh basil that grows in my back yard that I *never* would have thought of before. I bet these are amazing. Nothing quite beats fresh basil. Definitely bookmarking this!

  83. They are look amazing! Like roses!

  84. So pretty! Mint and chocolate would obviously be good too, but I’m intrigued by this combo. Sounds yummy!

  85. What a great blend of sweeet and savory!

  86. oh my gosh it’s posted!
    i’ve been waiting for this.
    PATIENTLY waiting for this basil buttercream!
    you done good kid–really good!

  87. That buttercream looks perfect! So light and gorgeous and not a hint of food colouring in sight 🙂

  88. I agree – basil in sweet applications is a totally underrated thing!

  89. Exquisite Joanne! I always love dropping by to see what you’re up to… such an inspiration. Beautiful, creative recipes with stunning photography.

  90. Kelsey says:

    Why did I not think of basil buttercream? Genius!

  91. Esi says:

    I love that gentle green color of the buttercream. The flavor sounds amazing too.

  92. Lora says:

    I lov the idea of basil buttercream.Also intrigued with using almond milk in frosting.

  93. grace says:

    basic buttercream? you are so inventive, joanne–my mind is locked on sweet with sweet, but i need to start branching out!

  94. Beautiful piping job and intriguing recipe. Great job!

  95. Shannon says:

    what a delicious flavor combo!! bet the frosting would be good on some strawberry cupcakes as well 😉

  96. Basil? Who would have thought? I love it! I wonder about a vanilla cupcake with oregano buttercream!

  97. I had some fancy chocolate basil pastry in Paris about 10 years ago. Basil + chocolate = divine. I can’t wait to make these cupcakes!

  98. sandra says:

    Did I hear right? Basil butter cream?? Oh my, that sounds so tasty!

  99. […] One year ago…Chocolate Cupcakes with Basil Buttercream Frosting […]

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