Hazelnut and Dark Chocolate Cakelettes with Basil Buttercream

makes ~eight 3 x 2″ cupcakes
for cake:

  • 10 Tbspn butter
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 12 oz. dark chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/2 Tbspn espresso
  • 1 Tbspn vanilla
  • 1/2 tspn salt


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Butter and flour the cake molds or tins. Line the bottom with parchment paper and grease again. Set aside.
  2. In a mixer bowl, beat the butter and light brown sugar on medium until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the egg yolks one at a time to the butter and sugar mixture, beating well between each addition.
  4. Beat the melted dark chocolate, espresso, vanilla, and salt into the batter until well-combined.
  5. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until soft peaks.
  6. Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate batter, then fold the remaining egg whites into the batter just until combined.  Be careful not to overmix!
  7. Divide the batter evenly amongst the prepared pans. Immediately place in the oven and bake for 15 – 18 minutes.  Meanwhile, prepare the meringue.

for meringue layer:

  • 2 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 1/2 Tbspn cornstarch
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 Tbspn sugar


  1. Combine the dark chocolate, hazelnuts, and cornstarch
  2. Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks, gradually adding the sugar as you whisk.
  3. Fold in the hazelnuts and chocolate mixture to the egg whites, being careful not to deflate the whites too much.
  4. Remove the chocolate cakes from the oven and spoon the meringue over the chocolate cakes.
  5. Return the cakes to the oven for ~15-20 minutes until the meringues are set.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Using a knife, unmold the cakelettes and let cool completely before frosting.

for basil buttercream:

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 large handfuls of basil, roughly shredded
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 sticks butter, at room temperature
  • green food coloring, optional


  1. In a small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, combine the milk and the basil. Bring to just a simmer, cover, and let steep for ~30 minutes.
  2. Strain the basil from the milk and discard the basil. Set the milk aside.
  3. Whisk together the sugar and flour in a saucepan. Gradually whisk in the prepared basil milk and the cream, making sure that there are no clumps.
  4. Cook the flour and milk mixture over medium heat until it boils and thickens, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer into a bowl.
  5. Beat with a paddle attachment on high until the flour and milk mixture is completely cool.
  6. With the mixer on low, gradually add the butter. Then, increase speed to medium-high and whip until light and fluffy. (If the buttercream gets too soft, put it in the refrigerator for a few minutes before re-beating.) Briefly beat in a few drops of green food coloring, if desired.
  7. Use immediately to frost the cakelettes.

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