The elegant Opera Cake is composed of thin layers of biscuit viennois soaked in coffee syrup and then layered with coffee-flavored buttercream and bittersweet chocolate ganache. The top of the cake is iced with dark chocolate glaze.
The Opera cake is a great classic of French pastry. It was born in the middle of the 20th century and the houses of Dalloyau and Lenôtre, both claiming its creation. The Parisian patisserie Dalloyau reintroduced and popularized it as L'Opera in honor of the Paris Opera.
According to Larousse Gastronomique, "Opéra gâteau is an elaborate almond sponge cake with a coffee and chocolate filling and icing."
The specifications for this cake are indeed very precise
The Opera Cake must be square, composed of three layers of Joconde biscuit (almond sponge) soaked in coffee syrup, two layers of coffee buttercream, a layer of chocolate ganache and a chocolate glaze.
The secret is the thickness of the Joconde biscuit, which must be very thin! The height of the cake shell be not exceed 2.5 cm.
No doubt, this is an elaborate recipe but each step is easy to follow, and the final result is rewarding. It is a refined dessert worthy of your holiday meals!
Recipe photos: Joconde Biscuit
Assemble The Cake
Prep time: 2 h
Cook time: 25 min
Time to Frigo: 2 h
Total time: 4 h 25 min
For the Biscuit Joconde
125g blanched almond flour
125g powdered sugar, sifted
35g all-purpose flour, sifted
25g unsalted butter, melted, clarified
4 egg whites, room-temperature
1 pinch salt
For the Coffee Buttercream
125g unsalted butter, softened
3 Tbsp coffee extract
For the Coffee Syrup
150 ml strong coffee
90 g sugar
Liqueur Grand-Marnier or Cointreau (optional)
For the Chocolate Ganache
200g bittersweet chocolate (70% cocoa), finely chopped
125g whipping (heavy; double-double) cream
50g de beurre
For Chocolate Coating
200g bittersweet chocolate (70% cocoa)
For the Chocolate Glaze
200g bittersweet chocolate (70% cocoa)
30g grapeseed oil
Prepare the Joconde Biscuit
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F). Grease and line two 23x33cm (9x13 inch) backing pan with parchment paper and brush the surface of the paper with butter. In a bowl, combine the almond flour and powder sugar. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs and almond-flour mixture, until foamy and doubled in volume. Turn off the mixer and transfer the mixture into large bowl. Set aside.
3. Wash the bowl of the mixer and dry it. Place the egg whites and a pinch of salt. Whip the egg whites until firm peaks form. Remove the bowl from the mixer and set aside.
4. Sift 35 g flour over the egg-almond mixture. Gently, fold in with a rubber spatula. Gradually add the clarified butter, and incorporate it gently.
5. Using a rubber spatula, gradually incorporate the egg-almond mixture into the beaten egg whites. Keep gently folding and turning until the egg-whites are completely incorporated, making sure the preparation doesn't collapse.
6. Divide the biscuit batter between the two prepared backing tray. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until slightly golden.
7. Remove from the oven and let to cool completely. Turn the cake upside down onto a piece of baking paper and gently peel off the baking paper. Set aside.
Prepare the Coffee Buttercream
8. In a saucepan, combine the water with sugar. Cook the sugar syrup on medium high heat, stirring until the sugar is melted. Bring to a boil and cook until the temperature reaches 121°C.
Note: If you don't have a thermometer, simply dip a fork in the boiling sugar. If you see strings forming when you take the fork out, that means the syrup is ready.
9. In a bowl of stand mixer add egg yolks. With the mixer running on medium low, pour the hot syrup in a steady stream between the edge of the bowl and the whisk. Increase the speed to medium high and continue whisking until the yolks are cooled.
10. When the yolks have cooled, with the mixer running on medium, add the softened butter one piece at a time. Add the coffee extract and increase the speed to medium high. Whip until the buttercream is smooth and homogeneous. Keep to room temperature.
Prepare the Coffee-Flavored Syrup
11. In a medium saucepan, combine the coffee and sugar. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the Grand-Marnier or Cointreau (optional). Set aside.
Prepare The Chocolate Ganache
12. In a medium bowl, place the finely chopped chocolate. Set aside. 13. In a small saucepan add the whipping cream and heat on medium heat until it just begins to boil. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate. Add butter and stir until smooth. Let stand, stirring occasionally until slightly thickened.
ASSEMBLE THE CAKE
1. Use a 20 x 20 cm (8 inch x 8 inch) square ring to cut the biscuits into three. One of the biscuit will be formed from left over and will be used as a second layer of biscuit. Set aside.
Prepare The Chocolate Coating
2. Using a double boiler or the microwave, melt the chocolate for the coating.
3. Place one of the square biscuit on the worktop. Using a brush, spread a thin layer of chocolate on the surface of the biscuit. Refrigerate to set (10 min).
Note: This coating will make the cake resistant to moisture.
4. Take the coated square cake layer from the fridge, flip on a serving plate with chocolate-coated facing down. Place the square ring around the biscuit, if desired. Brush the biscuit with coffee syrup. Spread 2 or 3 tablespoons of coffee buttercream to a thickness of 4 mm.
5. On the worktop, add the second square biscuit that is made of two pieces and soak well with coffee syrup. Gently flip and arrange the biscuit over the coffee cream, making sure the soaked side is facing down. Brush syrup over the other side of the biscuit. Spread a thin layer of chocolate ganache over the soaked sponge, the equivalent of 2 scoops.
6. On the worktop, add the third square biscuit and brush well with coffee syrup. Flip and arrange the biscuit with facing down, over the chocolate ganache. Brush syrup over the other side of the biscuit. Spread another thin layer of coffee buttercream over the soaked sponge, and even the surface using an offset spatula. Cover with cling film and refrigerate the cake for at least 2 hours or even overnight.
7. Before preparing the glaze place the chilled cake over a rack, placed on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, if you don't use a ring cake.
Prepare the Chocolate Glaze
8. In a medium bowl, over bain-marie, melt the bittersweet chocolate. Add the grapeseed oil, and stir to combine.
9. Pour the glaze immediately over the chilled cake to create a smooth surface. Refrigerate for about 1 hour to set.
10. Using a hot knife trim the edges of the cake and cut in 8 or 10 rectangular pieces.
If you try this recipe, leave a comment and let me know what you think! And don’t forget to snap a pic and tag it #felichiccuisine on instagram!
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