How To Make Classic Opera Cake
Indulge in a delicate French dessert known as opera cake. It's made with layers of sponge cake, buttercream, and ganache for a decadent bite.
For Jaconde Sponge:
- 1 cup almond flour
- 3⁄4 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1⁄4 cup all purpose flour
- 3 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 3 egg whites
- 1⁄4 cup superfine sugar
- 2 tbsp butter, melted
For Coffee Syrup:
- 1 tbsp instant espresso powder
- 5 tbsp warm water
- 1⁄4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp brandy, or cognac
For French Coffee Buttercream:
- 1 tbsp instant espresso powder
- 1⁄2 cup water, plus 1 tbsp
- 3⁄4 cup granulated sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 cup unsalted butter, cubed and softened
For Chocolate Glaze and Topping:
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter
- 7 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped fine
For Modeling Chocolate Decors:
- 10 oz semisweet chocolate chips
- 1⁄3 cup light corn syrup
- gold luster dust
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Lightly grease a 17x11-inch jelly roll pan and line it with parchment; grease the paper.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the almond flour, confectioners’ sugar, all-purpose flour, whole eggs, and egg yolk until combined. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites and fine sugar with an electric hand mixer until a thick, glossy meringue forms. Gently fold the meringue into the almond mixture.
Add the melted butter and gently fold again, being careful not to deflate the batter. Pour into the prepared baking pan; spread evenly using an offset spatula.
Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the cake springs back when pressed in the center. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
Invert the cake onto a wire rack and carefully peel away the parchment or silicone liner. Trim away the browned edges of the cake using a small sharp knife. Set aside to cool completely.
Stir together the espresso powder and 1 tablespoon of the water. Stir until dissolved. Add the remaining water to a saucepan along with the granulated sugar.
Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar is melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the espresso and brandy or cognac. Let cool to room temperature.
French Coffee Buttercream:
Stir together the espresso powder and 1 tablespoon of water until the powder is dissolved.
In a saucepan, bring the sugar and remaining water to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Clip a thermometer to the side of the pan and bring to a boil without stirring. Wash down any crystals that may form on the sides of the pan using a pastry brush dipped in cold water.
Cook, and bring to 238 degrees F (soft ball candy stage) and remove from the heat.
Beat the egg yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment for 1 minute. With the mixer running, add the hot sugar syrup to the yolks in a slow fine stream.
Add the dissolved espresso mixture and beat at high speed until completely cooled. When the mixing bowl is cool to the touch, switch to the paddle attachment and, with the mixer running, add butter pieces one at a time. When all of the butter has been added beat on high speed until the mixture comes together in a thick, creamy mass of silky buttercream.
Cover and set aside.
Chocolate Glaze and Topping:
In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter and 6 ounces of the chocolate together for about 1 to 1 minute 30 seconds in a standard household microwave. Reserve the remaining 2 tablespoons chopped chocolate.
Use a whisk to gently stir the mixture smooth. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of chocolate and whisk until melted. Let stand at room temperature until thickened to spreading consistency, or speed setting by refrigerating. Stir the mixture often if refrigerating.
Cut the cake evenly into thirds. Place a layer on a serving plate and use a pastry brush to apply an even layer of the coffee syrup.
Spread half of the French buttercream over the soaked sponge. Top with a second layer of sponge and brush it with the coffee syrup. Spread half of the chocolate glaze over the soaked sponge. Top with the remaining sponge cake and brush with coffee syrup. Add the remaining French buttercream and spread to the edges.
Chill the cake for about 30 minutes until the buttercream is firm.
- Reheat the remaining chocolate glaze in the microwave for about 15 seconds or until shiny and pourable but not hot. Pour the glaze over the top of the cake and spread evenly. Chill until firm.
When the cake is firmed, trim away the edges of the cake to neaten. Cut slices evenly into fingers (about 2 inches wide). Decorate as desired.
Modeling Chocolate Decors:
Heat the chocolate chips in the microwave at full power in a microwave-safe bowl at 30 second intervals, stirring thoroughly after each heating. When the chips are smooth, add the corn syrup and stir until the mixture becomes thick, the chocolate with lose its shiny appearance.
Spread the mixture on a large piece of wax paper and top with a second sheet; gently roll flat with a rolling pin. Let stand for 1 to 2 hours until firm.
Remove paper from the surface and knead the chocolate until pliable and puttylike. Press small pieces of the chocolate clay into the candy mold until overflowing. Use a knife to trim the excess chocolate away so that the chocolate in the mold is flat and even with the mold’s surface.
Freeze for 10 minutes. Remove gently and let stand until room temperature. Repeat until you have as many laurels as you have cake pieces.
Dip a dry art brush into luster dust and gently brush over the high points of the decorative laurels. Add a dot of corn syrup to the backs of the laurels and attach to the tops of the opera cake slices.
Refrigerate cake until ready to serve. Bring to room temperature before serving.
- Sugar: 3083g
- Calcium: 228mg
- Calories: 14269kcal
- Carbohydrates: 3379g
- Cholesterol: 361mg
- Fat: 97g
- Fiber: 17g
- Iron: 22mg
- Monounsaturated Fat: 25g
- Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g
- Potassium: 986mg
- Protein: 47g
- Saturated Fat: 48g
- Sodium: 205mg
- Trans Fat: 2g
- Vitamin A: 1838IU
- Vitamin C: 1mg
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