Basil can make a sweet thing even better. I didn’t know this until somewhat recently. I went to La Medusa, one of my favorite restaurants in Seattle, where I was served an unforgettable dessert. It was a basil creme brulee. This creme brulee was fantastic and not even one bit green. I realized just the essence of basil is enough to give your sweet treat a bit of zing.
Give this recipe from Gourmet a try. I thought it was a really wonderful accompaniment to the carrot muffins.
Nectarine Basil Preserves
4 cups sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1 cup fresh basil sprigs plus 8 small sprigs for tucking into jars
5 lb nectarines or peaches, peeled and each cut into 8 wedges
1 (1 3/4-oz) box plus 2 tablespoons lower-sugar powdered pectin
Special equipment: 8 (1/2-pint) canning jars with lids and screw bands; a candy thermometer
Bring sugar, lemon juice, water, and 1 cup basil to a boil in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Simmer over moderately low heat until thick and syrupy, about 25 minutes. Discard basil with a slotted spoon.
Add nectarines to syrup and bring to a rolling boil over moderately high heat, then boil, uncovered, stirring frequently, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer nectarines with slotted spoon to a sieve set over a bowl to catch juice. Drain nectarines 5 minutes, then add juice from bowl to juice in pot.
Drain jars upside down on a clean kitchen towel 1 minute, then invert. Divide nectarines among jars with slotted spoon. Tuck a fresh basil sprig into side of each jar.
Return juice in pot to a rolling boil, skimming off any foam. Continue to boil until juice registers 220 to 224°F on thermometer, 7 to 10 minutes. Gradually add pectin, whisking constantly. Return juice to a rolling boil, then boil, skimming off any foam, 1 minute.
Ladle juice into jars, leaving 1/4 inch of space at top, then run a thin knife between fruit and jar to eliminate air bubbles.
Seal, process, and store filled jars, boiling preserves in jars 10 minutes.