Pink velvet cupcakes with basque cheesecake mousseline

This recipe came up from a cake order, actually! The client was requesting pink velvet cupcakes for a Hollywood-type of party, so I wanted to try my best and embody a sort of glamorous and cute aesthetic. When it came to the cakes, I knew that I could do this super fluffy cake with pink coloring in it(I wanted to use my pitaya powder, but I found that pitaya bakes off completely in cakes, so that was a huge no-go). So instead, I went with -le gasp- pink food coloring. I try my best to not use that kind of stuff in my desserts, but I really had no other options within the two week turnaround I had between receiving the order and having to fulfill it, so I just opted to go with what I knew would work and save myself the hours of toiling around for something that could or could not work. For the cupcakes themselves, they are basically a vanilla cake that is dyed faintly pink, and inflated with whipped egg whites to create a super light and fluffy texture. However, the things the cake comes with are what really make these cupcakes special: a basque cheesecake mousseline and ruby modeling chocolate roses.

When I worked at Milkbar, one of our signature components was liquid cheesecake. It was essentially made from baking off a cheesecake, then pureeing it into a smooth, creamy spread. Since I had a basque cheesecake lying around in my freezer, and no cream cheese, I figured, why not go that route? By using a cheesecake instead of just cream cheese, you have those caramelized notes of an already-cooked product, and I could use that to make a frosting or topping for the cake with. I was already planning to do a French buttercream, or a mousseline, which is this silky, velvety buttercream, and fold into that cream cheese, so the liquid basque cheesecake would work perfectly in place of that, while also giving the cream this unctuous, rich flavor. I also adorned the cupcakes with ruby modeling chocolate roses and edible pearls, to finish off that “pretty-in-pink”-sort of aesthetic that I feel would work with the glamorous Hollywood theme that my client was going for!

For the liquid basque cheesecake:
4oz cream cheese
1 egg
1/4 cup granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup heavy cream

In a stand mixer, start by creaming together the cream cheese, eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Then pour into that the cream, mixing until combined. Pour the basque cheesecake into one parchment-lined 4-inch springform pans. Bake at 475 degrees F for 15 minutes. Throw into the freezer for 1 hour after baking, then trim off the edges – you want just the still-white interior. Place the still-frozen basque cheesecake into a food processor or blender and puree until completely liquified. (Honestly, it’s better to use leftover basque cheesecake for this recipe than make it from scratch, but I’m just saying that because that’s what I wound up doing!). You need about 5oz of liquid cheesecake in total for the mousseline.

For the cupcakes:
2 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp white vinegar
a pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 drops pink food coloring

In a bowl, whip the egg whites with sugar, baking soda, and vinegar until frothy and tripled in volume. In another bowl, mix together your flour, milk, oil, vanilla, and food coloring. Fold into that the egg white mixture to form your batter. Scoop into 12 cupcake liners, and bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. Allow the cakes to fully cool down before attempting to pipe on top of them.

For the mousseline:
3 tbsp granulated sugar
3 tbsp water
2 egg yolks
Approximately 5oz liquid cheesecake(just use the entire recipe if you did make it from scratch!)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

Reduce sugar and water on the stove until they form into a simmering syrup. Pour over the egg yolks and whip. Then whisk into the egg yolks the liquid cheesecake, then the butter, whipping until everything is fully combined. Transfer to a piping bag.

For the pink modeling chocolate roses:
4oz ruby chocolate
2 tbsp corn syrup
a pinch of salt

Melt together over a double boiler. Mix together, off heat, until combined, then transfer the modeling chocolate into the refrigerator, covered, for at least 10 minutes. Roll out the modeling chocolate to about 1/16th-inch in thickness. Cut out 1/2-inch disks, and roll them together, cutting them in half to form two roses. Using a knife or offset spatula, separate the petals from each other to give the rose a more life-like appearance. Freeze the flowers once you have made 12 of them.

To garnish:
Edible pearl sprinkles

Pipe the mousseline on top of each cupcake. Finish with the roses and pearls.

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