Chocolate Mint Basil Cupcakes

chocolate cupcakes with mint basil buttercream

Hai Chitlins! Happy Monday. {sigh} Monday’s really are the worst. I mean seriously. Though if you were to ask me I wouldn’t be able to pick a favorite day of the week. It’s sort of a tie between Saturday and Sunday. Like, if I could smoosh the feeling of Sunday morning with the feeling of Saturday afternoon I think I’d be the happiest person in the world.

Let me explain.

Dorie Greenspans chocolate cupcakes

Sunday morning is the best because you’ve already had a full day to relax and unwind. You’ve probably gone out with friends the night before had a lovely evening; fully shaken off the feeling of a strenuous work week and are feeling thoroughly rested and relaxed. It’s great, the day feels full of potential and you have the energy to seize it.

Saturday afternoon on the other hand is awesome because you feel like there are so many possibilities before you. You have so many hours still before you need to be back in the office. Over 24 hours in fact. It feels like the longest, best afternoon ever. It starts at 11am and goes until like 3am.  At least.

But Sunday afternoon is kind of melancholy because your weekend is coming to an end. And Saturday morning you’re still a little high strung from the work week and kinda amped to GETALLTHETHINGSDONETHISWEEKEND. So you haven’t thoroughly chilled out. Yah know what I mean?

Dorie Greenspan's chocolate cupcakes with basil mint buttercream

Just me?

Well these cupcakes are a Sunday morning creation. The kind of thing I think up on a Saturday afternoon in a fit of geniosity (totally a word). The sort of treat that I wake up early to test and bake. It’s what those inspirational, feel-good, movie montages are made of. With the quirky angles and scene cuts, and hip fade with the familiar, upbeat music you can’t quite put your finger on. That’s what these cupcakes are. They’re made of the best memories ever.

Which makes them perfect for the wedding that I’m making them for. My good friend Jeanne from grad school is marrying her perfect match Damian next weekend and I have the grand honor of making the cupcakes. And, the proverbial icing on the cake? I had free reign to pick the flavors! Can you even? Talk about a dream bride.

Dorie Greenspans chocolate basil cupcakes with basil mint buttercream

I’d been mulling over a savory/sweet combination almost as soon as she told me I could do whatever I wanted. At first I thought I wanted rosemary but none of the recipes were really striking me (and I already had a citrus flavor I wanted to do so lemon rosemary was out). And then I remembered Dorie’s chocolate cupcakes and how lightly sweetened they are and how they would be the perfect vehicle for a savory frosting. And then all of a sudden I thought BASIL. And while I was steeping my first test batch of basil a tiny voice in my head said OMG AND MINT! And boom. The birth of the perfect wedding cupcakes.

And just real quick, can we talk about this frosting? Because seriously OMG IT’S SO FLUFFY I WANT TO DIE!. I can’t even handle it. It’s like silky clouds of flavor love. For reals. And it doesn’t crust, which I have yet to decide is a good or bad thing. But for now, I’m in love.

choc basil


Chocolate Cupcakes with Basil Mint Frosting
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Cupcake recipe adapted a tiny smidge from Baking: From My Home to Yours (affiliate link!) Frosting recipe adapted from The Vanilla Bean Blog
Serves: 12-14
For the cake
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ cup Hershey's cocoa
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla (a hearty splash)
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 oz bittersweet baking chocolate, melted and cooled
For the frosting
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • 3 tbsp heavy cream
  • ¼ cup fresh mint leaves, packed
  • 8 large basil leaves
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • ¾ cup (1 1 /2 sticks) butter, softened but still cool, cubed
  • ½ tsp vanilla
To make the cake
  1. Heat oven to 350F. Place paper liners in cupcake tin. Set aside
  2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 1 - 2 minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together dry ingredients.
  4. Mix the vanilla and buttermilk in a measuring cup.
  5. Once butter and sugar are creamed add the egg and mix until thoroughly incorporated.
  6. Add the yolk and mix until fluffy. About a minute.
  7. With the mixer running on low add half the flour mixture, combine just until no streaks remain.
  8. Add the buttermilk and mix until incorporated.
  9. Add the remaining flour mixture and beat on medium until fluffy 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl.
  10. Fold in the melted chocolate by hand just until no streaks remain.
  11. Using a large cupcake scoop (affiliate link!) add one slightly heaped scoopful of batter to each liner (just over ¼ cup). You will have a little leftover batter.
  12. Bake 22 - 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
To make the frosting
  1. In a small sauce pan add the milk, cream, mint, and basil and heat just until steaming and small bubbles form around the edges of the pan.
  2. Remove from heat, cover, and let infuse for at least 2 hours. If you want to infuse longer for a stronger flavor place in the refrigerator.
  3. After infusing, strain the leaves from the milk and cream, pressing to release all the "juices".
  4. Return to a heavy bottomed sauce pan (to prevent scorching!) and add the flour and sugar.
  5. Whisk over medium heat until boiling and thickened, approximately 10-15minutes. The mixture will resemble a roux or Elmer's glue.
  6. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium until cooled, approximately 7 - 9 minutes. (You could also do this by hand with a hand held mixer, though you'd want to chill your bowl and beaters before you started so it won't take as long).
  7. Once cooled, add the cubed butter and beat on high until fluffy, approximately 2 minutes.
  8. Add vanilla and beat to combine.
  9. If frosting isn't stiff enough for spreading, chill in the refrigerator. If too thick, thin with milk.
  1. Scoop a dollop of frosting on each cooled cupcake and spread with an offset spatula (affiliate links!). Top with sprinkles, sugared mint, or basil leaves if desired.
If you infuse the milk and cream mixture for only two hours you get a very soft, pleasant mint and basil flavor. I've been told that it intensifies after a day or two. After infusing, your milk and cream will have a pale green hue from the mint leaves but that fades after beating with the butter. You could always had a small drop of food coloring if desired.


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  1. Jeanne says

    Even if I don’t make a GF version right away, the mint/basil flavor combo has totally inspired a cocktail recipe here.

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