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Monday 8 April 2013

Let Her Eat Cake: Torta di Basilico

Let Her Eat Cake: Basil, Walnut & Mascarpone Cheesecake
What cheese do you use to hide a small horse? Mascarpone!

Jokes aside, mascarpone is magical stuff. Is it a cream? Is it a cheese? Is it a decadent hybrid of both? Don't care. Pass the spoon. 

A few weekends ago I was in Rome. Amid the tsunami of delicious food, I tried basil and walnut gelato and, oh my, it was good. (I also tried ricotta with truffle honey, but in a cake I imagine that would be both scary and luxurious, a bit like Joan Crawford).

So instead, here is a winning combination: basil, walnut, mascarpone and chocolate. An Italian take on a cheesecake, this is light, creamy, not too sweet, nutty, chocolatey and deeply satisfying.

Best of all, it requires no cooking, so can be made in a tiny kitchen with no oven somewhere in the heart of Trastevere... or you know, in a tent in Skegness.

Torta di Basilico (Basil and Walnut Mascarpone Cheesecake)
You will need:
  • 120g plain digestive biscuits (preferably whole-wheat variety)
  • 60g butter
  • 60g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa content)
  • 500g mascarpone
  • 6 tbsp icing sugar
  • 30g fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 80g walnuts, crushed
  • Whole basil leaves, to decorate
Make it!
  1. Crumble the biscuits into small pieces. (Bash lightly with the end of a rolling pin to speed up the process). 
  2. Melt the butter, then stir into the biscuit mix. Transfer to a 20cm round dish or tin at least 7cm deep, and press down firmly across the bottom to form the biscuit base.
  3. Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie (a glass bowl set over some boiling water) or in 20 second blasts in the microwave, stirring frequently. 
  4. Pour the chocolate over the biscuit layer and smooth out until even. Cover and chill whilst you make the mascarpone topping. 
  5. Place the mascarpone in a large bowl. Sift in the icing sugar and stir well. (You may want to add a little more, according to taste). Add the finely chopped basil and walnuts and mix until well combined. 
  6. Spoon onto your biscuit base, smoothing towards the edges until even. 
  7. Cover and return to the fridge, chilling overnight or for at least an hour. 
  8. Decorate with a sprig of fresh basil leaves. 
  9. For maximum Italian-points, devour with a tiny cup of very strong coffee whilst yelling the day's gossip through the window at your neighbour. 


  1. The theme for our next local baking club night (less WRI, more bring your baking to an actual nightclub - brilliant Oui?) is cheese and I was at a loss... but I'm not anymore! (I won't tell anyone there's no actual baking involved if you don't, 'K?)

  2. Sounds excellent! And I certainly won't tell... it's still a cake, after all!

  3. Howdy! This post couldn't be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this article to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

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