Carrot Cake Castella with Honeyed Goat Cheese

This recipe was directly inspired by a petit four I had at Singular restaurant in Kyoto. When we ate there, they used carrot juice to make this light and airy cake, and paired it with a soft whipped cream cheese topping. Castella is a type of cake that originated from Portugal, but has since made its way over to both Japan and Taiwan. It is made with heavily whipped eggs, usually with honey or rice syrup, and has this light, airy texture to it. I wanted to do something similar to the cake I had at Singular, but using goat cheese and honey instead. Fun fact, I originally wanted to do something with goat cheese and honey with a carrot cake-type of thing a while ago, but I deferred to a Thai tea version because I had a lot of Thai tea packets lying around. This time around, I figured I would just lock in the idea of taking carrots, honey, and goat cheese and really running with it, especially since I was so inspired by the cake I had in Japan. For this recipe, I did use carrot juice instead of fresh carrots, since I found it to be a lot easier to work with and modify – with fresh carrots, you will usually have to grate or puree them, whereas carrot juice, already being liquid, you would simply have to reduce it down into a concentrate, which then could be used in almost anything. I also used the Martellato Square Loaf Cake Mold, which is a square loaf tin with a chimney insert since it’s about time I used it again for something, and I figured it would be a cool opportunity to pipe a filling of some kind into the center of the cake. If you do not own that specific mold, you can always just make the batter using a loaf pan, and then pipe the filling directly into the cake after baking!

For the components, we have the carrot-honey castella, a goat cheese-carrot-burnt honey mousse, and a whipped goat cheese topping. The idea behind doing a separate filling and topping, both using goat cheese, was just so that there would be a contrast in flavor and color. I felt a filling that was more concentrated, with similar profiles to the cake, would be a great idea to reinforce the taste of the cake itself, while the light, more straightforward goat cheese whip on top would be able to act as a palate cleanser from all of that carrot and honey. I did reduce down quite a bit of carrot juice and honey for both the batter and the filling. The cake itself is relatively straightforward to make if you own a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, since that will do all of the heavy lifting when it comes to whipping up the eggs with the honey and carrot juice into the ribbon stage you are looking for to make a castella batter with. I also used brown butter and cinnamon for the cake, just to enhance the carrot flavor further. For the filling, I started with the same honey-carrot reduction, and added to that goat’s cheese and white chocolate as a way to stabilize it into a pipe-able consistency. The end result was a creamy, carrot cake-tasting filling with the tang of goat cheese at the end, which is quite pleasant all together. If you despise goat cheese for whatever reason, do yourself a favor and sub it out with cream cheese or mascarpone. This recipe will still taste just a good with either or! Now if you are allergic to carrots, I am so sorry, just stop reading this recipe!

For the castella batter:
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup carrot juice
a pinch of cinnamon
a pinch of salt
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tbsp unsalted butter, browned

In a pot, reduce the honey, carrot juice, cinnamon, and salt until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens substantially. Pour the hot liquid into a mixing bowl with your eggs and vanilla, then whisk until the eggs form a pale, fluffy mixture. Sift into that the flour first, and fold until just combined. Then mix 3 tbsp of the batter into the butter first, then fold that back into the rest of your batter. Pour the batter into a lined loaf pan(I used the Martellato Square Loaf Cake Mold so that my loaf has a hole running through the center of it), and bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Allow the cake to fully cool before removing from the tin.

For the goat cheese-carrot-honey mousse
3oz carrot juice
1.5oz honey
1 tsp gelatin
2oz white chocolate
a pinch of cinnamon
a pinch of salt
3oz goat cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract
3oz whipped heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks

In a pot, bring the carrot juice, honey, and gelatin to a boil first. Then add in the white chocolate, cinnamon, and salt. Allow everything to dissolve together over low heat before pouring into a bowl with goat cheese and whisking that all together. Then add in the vanilla, and once the mixture is fully cooled down, fold into the heavy cream. Transfer everything into a piping bag and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before attempting to use.

For the whipped goat cheese topping:
1oz goat cheese
1oz heavy cream
1oz confectioners’ sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
a pinch of salt

In a bowl, whisk everything until combined.

To assemble:
Pipe the mousse into the center of the loaf first. Then spread the whipped goat cheese on top. Freeze the cake for 30 minutes, then trim the edges.

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