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Opera Cake

Posted By sugarlaw On May 28, 2008 @ 7:32 am In desserts,food | 58 Comments

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Perhaps I should title this post, “what happens to Opera Cake if you eliminate the multi-hour chilling/thickening steps.”

But first, a story. A few weekends ago, I was at the farmer’s market on a Saturday afternoon. I was walking along, minding my own business, when suddenly I felt someone grab my arm. Mildly freaked out, I turned to face the person holding my wrist and found myself face-to-face with my cousin Diana! After a few minutes of gasping about being happy to see each other and the randomness of our encounter, she turned to her friend and said, “See? I told you that if we walked through the farmer’s market, we would see my cousin!”

Apparently, I am very predictable. (There are worse things to be).

But as we stood there chatting, I felt *another* tap on my shoulder. I turned around to face one of my college roommates, also randomly at the farmer’s market at that very moment!

…And then my head exploded. For a city of so many people, Manhattan is such a small town.

We headed in our separate directions, but a few hours later, I got a call from my old roommate, asking what I was up to.

“I’m making this french dessert thing,” I replied.  “Do you want to come over and have a slice of it?” (As a side note, I think my friends are starting to catch on that if they call me on a weekend afternoon, I will probably have something yummy to feed them.)

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But she agreed to come over, and suddenly the timeframe for completing my Opera cake changed dramatically.

Because, three hours later, I had joconde, syrup, and various parts of my white chocolate whipped cream filling assembled, and one very hungry guest. Consequently, I had absolutely no time to refrigerate either the buttercream for 20 minutes, or the glaze for 30 minutes, and I couldn’t even think about chilling the whole cake for an hour before adding the glaze. So we sliced into it, runny glaze and all.

And it was seriously, seriously delicious.  We each had two slices and then had to put it away to avoid going back for thirds, it was that good.  This recipe was a lot more elaborate than the simple, straightforward desserts I usually gravitate to, but I adored it.  I’ll definitely make this again (well in advance of serving it, with plenty of time to chill appropriately).  Yum!

And, More Free Ice Cream!

The winners of Monday’s Haagen Dazs giveaway are…

  • Kitt (Comment #12) whose favorite flavor is soon to be Vanilla Honey Bee!
  • Paula (Comment #27) whose favorite flavor is Sticky Toffee Pudding
  • Kim (Comment #33) who has three favorite flavors (can you blame her?)

Now, for the fun part.  I have three more gift certificates to give away on *this* post! 

To win, leave a comment, before Saturday night at midnight Eastern time, letting me know what your favorite Daring Bakers recipe has been!  To jog your memory, the Daring Bakers recipes I’ve made have been the Yule Log [3], Lemon Meringue Pie [4], French Bread [5], Perfect Party Cake [6], and this post’s Opera Cake, but there are plenty of others too!  I’ll be picking three random winners, and each winner will receive a Haagen Dazs gift certificate entitling them to one free Haagen Dazs product from their new Honey Bee collection, in the US only.  Double yum!

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Opéra Cake

For the Joconde:
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 tbsp. (30 grams) granulated sugar
2 cups (225 grams) ground blanched almonds
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
6 large eggs
½ cup (70 grams) all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. (1½ ounces; 45 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1.Divide the oven into thirds by positioning a rack in the upper third of the oven and the lower third of the oven.
2.Preheat the oven to 425?F. (220?C).
3.Line two 12½ x 15½- inch (31 x 39-cm) jelly-roll pans with parchment paper and brush with melted butter.
4.In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using a handheld mixer), beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy. If you do not have another mixer bowl, gently scrape the meringue into another bowl and set aside.
5.If you only have one bowl, wash it after removing the egg whites or if you have a second bowl, use that one. Attach the paddle attachment to the stand mixer (or using a handheld mixer again) and beat the almonds, icing sugar and eggs on medium speed until light and voluminous, about 3 minutes.
6.Add the flour and beat on low speed until the flour is just combined (be very careful not to overmix here!!!).
7.Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the meringue into the almond mixture and then fold in the melted butter. Divide the batter between the pans and spread it evenly to cover the entire surface of each pan.
8.Bake the cake layers until they are lightly browned and just springy to the touch. This could take anywhere from 5 to 9 minutes depending on your oven. Place one jelly-roll pan in the middle of the oven and the second jelly-roll pan in the bottom third of the oven.
9.Put the pans on a heatproof counter and run a sharp knife along the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Cover each with a sheet of parchment or wax paper, turn the pans over, and unmold.
10.Carefully peel away the parchment, then turn the parchment over and use it to cover the cakes. Let the cakes cool to room temperature.

For the Syrup:
½ cup (125 grams) water
? cup (65 grams) granulated sugar
1 to 2 tbsp. of the flavouring of your choice (i.e., vanilla extract, almond extract, cognac, limoncello, coconut cream, honey etc.)

1.Stir all the syrup ingredients together in the saucepan and bring to a boil.
2.Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

For the White Chocolate Whipped Cream:
7 ounces white chocolate
1 cup plus 3 tbsp. heavy cream (35% cream)
1/4 cup sugar

1.Melt the white chocolate and the 3 tbsp. of heavy cream in a small saucepan.
2.Stir to ensure that it’s smooth and that the chocolate is melted. Set aside to cool completely.
3.In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream with the sugar until soft peaks form.
4.Gently fold the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate to form a mousse.
5.If it’s too thin, refrigerate it for a bit until it’s spreadable.
6.If you’re not going to use it right away, refrigerate until you’re ready to use.

For the Glaze:

14 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup heavy cream (35% cream)

1.Melt the white chocolate with the heavy cream. Whisk the mixture gently until smooth.
2.Let cool for 10 minutes and then pour over the chilled cake. Using a long metal cake spatula, smooth out into an even layer.
3.Place the cake into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set.

Assembling the Opéra Cake:
Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.

Working with one sheet of cake at a time, cut and trim each sheet so that you have two pieces (from each cake so you’ll have four pieces in total): one 10-inch (25-cm) square and one 10 x 5-inch (25 x 12½-cm) rectangle.

Place one square of cake on the baking sheet and moisten it gently with the flavoured syrup.

Spread about one-third of the white chocolate whipped cream over this layer.

Top with the two rectangular pieces of cake, placing them side by side to form a square. Moisten these pieces with the flavoured syrup.

Spread another third of the white chocolate whipped cream on the cake and then top with the third square of joconde. Use the remaining syrup to wet the joconde. Spread the remaining white chocolate whipped cream on top of the final layer of joconde and then refrigerate until very firm (at least half an hour).

Make the glaze and after it has cooled, pour/spread it over the top of the chilled cake. Refrigerate the cake again to set the glaze.

Serve the cake slightly chilled. This recipe will yield approximately 20 servings.


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URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.sugarlaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/opera31.jpg

[2] Image: http://www.sugarlaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/opera2.jpg

[3] Yule Log: http://www.sugarlaws.com/yule-log/

[4] Lemon Meringue Pie: http://www.sugarlaws.com/lemon-meringue-pie/

[5] French Bread: http://www.sugarlaws.com/julia-childs-french-bread/

[6] Perfect Party Cake: http://www.sugarlaws.com/perfect-party-cake/

[7] Image: http://www.sugarlaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/opera11.jpg

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