Whipped Cheesecake with Brown Butter Carrot Cake: a plated dessert

This recipe came about because I was thinking what I could make with rainbow carrots, and I thought about a fun plated carrot cake meets a cheese platter. Whipped cheesecakes are always a favorite dessert of mine, because they are super easy to do. Cream cheese, gelatin, sugar, and there you have a silky textured mousse with the pleasant tang of cream cheese! With the carrot cake portion of this dessert, I wanted to go with more subtle spices in cardamom and cinnamon just to perfume the carrot, and to really compliment those brown sugary notes in the batter, brown butter, because caramelization is fun. To embrace the idea of caramelization further, I made a caramelized walnut tuiles(you can use pecans instead, and I think I actually did use pecans in my reel for this because my bonehead self didn’t have walnuts, but the original intention was walnuts), and used that to introduce texture to the final dessert. What I love about this dessert is that the whipped cheesecake takes center stage, with the carrot components and walnut tuile being the fun adornments the make each bite of that whipped cheesecake just slightly different from the last.

In terms of the components, we do have the whipped cheesecake as the base. With the carrots, we have a few different components with them. The first is a brown butter carrot cake, which is soft, spongy, and light. We also have a purple carrot curd, which fun fact, turned a bright vermillion color (because the yuzu juice in the curd brought down the PH levels of the purple carrot juice), just to add acidity to contrast the richness and sweetness of the dessert. We also have shaved rainbow carrots, tossed in a simple syrup, just to keep them crunchy, fresh, but also a little sweet. The tuiles add in a bit more sweetness, and a crisp texture, and height! The dessert is finished with edible flowers as well, just to really bring vibrant visual contrast, and to tie back in with the colorfulness of the rainbow carrots themselves. What I love about this dessert, beyond it being ever-changing, while also embracing different aspects of carrot, is just how playful the presentation really is. The tuiles and cake on their own are a tad…brown, but the other components add in the vibrance, freshness, and color that keep the dessert lively. I was lucky enough to get this cool wooden riser from Olive Atelier in Culver City as well, which was the plate of choice for the dessert(highly recommend checking them out if you want interesting Turkish-imported furniture), that really completes the woodsy aesthetic of the dessert!

Makes 3 servings:
For the whipped cheesecake:
1 tsp gelatin powder + 1 tbsp cold water
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
6oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla bean paste/vanilla extract

In a pot, mix together the gelatin and water first. Allow that mixture to sit at room temperature for 1 minute before stirring in the heavy cream, sugar, and salt. Bring that pot to a simmer, making sure that everything is fully dissolved into the cream. In a mixing bowl, whip the cream cheese until softened then slowly fold into that the gelatin-cream mixture. Once everything is added in, mix in the vanilla, then whip the entire mixture until light and airy. Transfer to a piping bag with a large round tip. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before attempting to use.

For the brown butter carrot cake:
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup grated orange carrot
1/2 tbsp cider vinegar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
a pinch of cinnamon
a pinch of cardamom

In a nonstick pan, heat up butter until melted and browned. In another bowl, mix together the carrot, vinegar, and dark brown sugar. Pour the butter over the carrot mixture and stir until combined first. Then sift in the other ingredients. Fold until combined. Brush any leftover brown butter from the nonstick pan into a small square shaped baking tin(I used an 8-inch one, but a brownie mold will suffice as well). Spread the batter into the mold in an even layer. Then bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. Allow the cake to fully cool before slicing into 1-inch cubes. Store in an airtight container.

For the purple carrot yuzu curd:
1 purple carrot, peeled and shaved into thin slices using either a vegetable peeler or thinnest setting on your mandolin
1 tbsp yuzu juice
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
a pinch of salt
1 tbsp unsalted butter

Blanch the carrot slices in boiling water for 45 seconds and shock the slices in cold water. Transfer the slices into a blender with the other ingredients and 1/4 cup water and puree until combined. Pour the mixture into a pot and cook on low heat for 2 minutes, or until thickened into the consistency of gravy. Transfer to a piping bag and refrigerate until cold.

For the caramelized walnut wafers:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 oz corn syrup
a pinch of salt
a pinch of cinnamon
1oz toasted salted walnuts

In a pot, heat up the sugar, syrup, salt, and cinnamon until the sugar fully dissolves, turns brown in color, and registers 275 degrees on a candy thermometer. Pour the sugar onto a nonstick surface and allow it to firm up at room temperature. Transfer the sugar and walnuts into a food processor or preferably a spice grinder and blend into a fine powder. Sift the powder over a parchment-lined sheet tray and bake at 350 degrees F for 3 minutes. Allow the wafer sheet to cool down before breaking into smaller pieces and storing in an airtight container.

For the glazed carrot ribbons:
Yellow, white, orange, or purple rainbow carrots
1 tbsp yuzu juice
2 tbsp granulated sugar
a pinch of salt

Peel the rainbow carrots and shave them into thin, long ribbons using either a vegetable peeler or the thinnest setting on a mandolin. Blanch the ribbons in boiling water for 30 seconds, and then shock them in ice. At this point, separate them out by color(otherwise the darker shades of the carrots will leech into the lighter shades and mar the different colors). In a pot, heat up the yuzu juice, sugar, and salt until the sugar and salt are dissolved into the juice. Allow the liquid to cool down before brushing it onto the ribbons.

To plate:
Edible flower petals

Start by piping a large circle of the whipped cheesecake onto the bottom of a plate. Pipe dots of the curd around that. Garnish the sides of the cheesecake with the wafers, cubes of the carrot cake, the rainbow carrot ribbons, and finally the flower petals to finish.

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