John D. Ivanko
July 25, 2012

We love when our farmer friends open our eyes to new and exciting flavor combinations, like the basil, chocolate and whisky in this cake. Photo by Lisa Kivirist (
Photo by Lisa Kivirist
We love when our farmer friends open our eyes to new and exciting flavor combinations, like the basil, chocolate and whisky in this cake.

The cooking philosophy of Farmstead Chef is to always push ourselves out of our comfort zones in the kitchen. We revel in the serendipity of a new ingredient combo or fresh technique that may lead our taste buds into new levels of satisfaction. Case in point: Chocolate Basil Whisky Cake.

Don’t get us wrong, we like all those three elements—chocolate, basil and whisky. We just never thought to combine them into a dessert. We drew inspiration for this a recipe from our local Wisconsin farmer friend, Kriss Marion, of Circle M Farm, who’s always one to share a new recipe find.

Subscribe now

“Even though I run a vegetable CSA and have an abundance of produce, food is constantly changing hands around here and recipes shared. A neighbor just left a sample of her stuffed zucchini boat in my fridge, which is fantastic because my zucchini isn’t ready yet,” Kriss says. “I originally got this basil-cake recipe from a CSA member and loved how moist it was and the fact that this was another way to use fresh basil.”

Kriss, Lisa and five other area women farmers will be sharing their passion for all things seasonal and local from the garden during an area farm tour on Sunday, Aug 5, 2012, called Soil Sisters: South Central Wisconsin Women in Sustainable Agriculture Farm Tour.

We did find when sharing this cake to our bed-and-breakfast guests this past weekend that it needs a little pre-sell. It looks just like your standard chocolate cake, but the flavors pop much differently. By giving folks a heads-up on the basil and whisky flavors, we found people are much more apt to eat slower and savor the taste, typically exclaiming in glee when they can taste the basil within the chocolate. And that is perhaps the key perk of this recipe: inspiring people to linger longer around the cake plate.

Recipe: Chocolate Basil Whiskey Cake
Adapted from a recipe from Circle M Farm (Brodhead, Wis.)



  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 5 T. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup hot water


  • 1½ cup powdered sugar
  • 5 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 T. sour cream
  • 1 T. butter, melted
  • 2 T. whisky
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • splash heavy cream or milk (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil 9-inch-round cake pan, and dust with flour.

Place sugar and basil in food processor, and pulse until basil is finely chopped and uniformly green in color. It will look slightly wet.

In large bowl, whisk melted butter, cocoa powder and basil-sugar mixture until well blended. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, until blended and smooth. Stir in the baking soda, vanilla and salt. Gradually add flour to bowl, stirring just until blended. Add hot water and stir until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 22 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool before frosting.

In a medium bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and cocoa. Set aside.

In separate medium bowl, beat sour cream and melted butter with an electric mixer on low until blended. Gradually add sugar mixture to sour-cream mixture, beating at low until well blended. Add vanilla and whisky, and beat will for 1 minute until smooth and creamy.

If mixture becomes too thick and beat, add splash of heavy cream or milk.

Spread over cake, and garnish with extra basil leaves.

Savoring the good life,

John and Lisa's Signatures

<< More Farmstead Chef >>


Subscribe now

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Next Up

You Should Also read: