I have a habit of giving people baked goods as gifts--no one has complained yet. This year for Mother's Day I wanted to make a new cake, a cake I had been mulling over in my head and was now (theoretically) ready for testing.
A few years ago I made a cupcake version of this cake. Basil cupcakes with balsamic vinegar mascarpone frosting. They were fine. I'm not sure why I did cupcakes because I honestly don't like cupcakes very much. They tend to have too much frosting, not enough cake flavor, and just seem gimmicky. But the idea was interesting, so I hearkened back to it when coming up with this Mother's Day cake.
The long description of this cake is: Basil cake with maple cardamom mascarpone frosting topped with a balsamic reduction drizzle and strawberries. It is quite the flavor bomb.
I opted for the "naked" look for the frosting. The mascarpone with maple and cardamom is wonderful but rich--covering the entire cake with it could have been too overwhelming. And besides, the naked cake look has a spring and summer appeal that looks as refreshing as the cool strawberries on top.
This cake was a hit. Everyone loved it, even my three-year-old nephew who has less refined tastebuds as the adults. The consensus was that the flavors were unexpected, especially in a cake, but worked surprisingly well together. The surprise and the actual flavor met in perfect unison. It was light but moist, flavorful but not overbearing. Each flavor had its chance to shine.
This is definitely a recipe I will keep around and use again. What was a theoretical delicious cake has now been proven so. Yay for cakes, and happy Mother's Day to all the mothers, wannabe mothers, grandmas, single dads, sisters, and cat ladies.