sweet! Oh, and ...La Ti Do! This month's Daring Baker challenge was was a new one for me...an Opera Cake! This is a beautiful, layered dessert. Unfortunately, I didn't have a reason to make it. No parties, no birthdays, no wedding showers, no baby showers...yet, I had missed last month and "had" to participate this month. So, I made a half batch yesterday. Guess I'll take some to my parents' best friends to get some feedback. The original Opera Cake is apparently a chocolate and coffee flavored concoction, yet this month we were restricted to light flavors and colors. The jaconde is made with almond meal, and though at first I thought it tasted a bit eggy, it really turned out well. I used vanilla to flavor my syrup, which at first, I thought was an unneccessary part of the recipe. Turns out I was wrong, it really adds to the taste and texture of the finished product. As to the buttercream, I've said before how I just don't like buttercream...I feel like I'm eating butter and don't care for the film over the roof of my mouth afterwards. So, I used the mousse as my filling instead of the buttercream. This turned out well and helped to lighten the overall effect. I made the white chocolate mousse with a bit of lime flavoring added (and some green food coloring!). To top it all off, I made the white chocolate glaze. My attempt to make music notes failed as the glaze ran everywhere within seconds after application...thus, this very quickly snapped photograph! All in all, this really was a quick and dare I say simple dessert. I do think my jaconde wasn't QUITE finished cooking, but it still turned out well. Just be calm when you see the length of recipes, as length doesn't mean difficult or incredibly involved. It just had a few steps and probably only took about an hour to complete! If I have an occasion to make this again, I probably would...but with fourth year and residency upcoming, I don't know when the music of this dessert would need to grace my table! Thanks to Lis, Ivonne, Fran, and Shea for hosting! Oh, yeah! Be sure to check out Barbara's LiveSTRONG event as well...that's why we kept the colors light! Opéra Cake based on Opéra Cake recipes in Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets and Tish Boyle and Timothy Moriarty’s Chocolate Passion
For the joconde - can be made up to 1 day in advance and kept wrapped at room temperature
2 12½ x 15½-inch (31 x 39-cm) jelly-roll pans - I used round cake pans
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 tbsp. (30 grams) granulated sugar
2 cups (225 grams) almond meal
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
Preheat the oven to 425◦F. (220◦C).
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.
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. Add the flour and beat on low speed until the flour is just combined (be very careful not to overmix here!!!).
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. 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.
Put the pans on a heatproof counter and run a sharp knife along the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Let the cakes cool to room temperature.
For the syrup - The syrup can be made up to 1 week in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator
½ cup (125 grams) water
⅓ cup (65 grams) granulated sugar
1 to 2 tbsp. of the flavouring of your choice
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 buttercream - I didn't make this!
1 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
¼ cup (60 grams) water
seeds of one vanilla bean (split a vanilla bean down the middle and scrape out the seeds) or 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1¾ sticks (7 ounces; 200 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
flavouring of your choice
1.Combine the sugar, water and vanilla bean seeds or extract in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves.
2.Continue to cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 225◦F (107◦C) [*Note: Original recipe indicates a temperature of 255◦F (124◦C), however, when testing the recipe I found that this was too high so we heated to 225◦F and it worked fine] on a candy or instant-read thermometer. Once it reaches that temperature, remove the syrup from the heat.
3.While the syrup is heating, begin whisking the egg and egg yolk at high speed in the bowl of your mixer using the whisk attachment. Whisk them until they are pale and foamy.
4.When the sugar syrup reaches the correct temperature and you remove it from the heat, reduce the mixer speed to low speed and begin slowly (very slowly) pouring the syrup down the side of the bowl being very careful not to splatter the syrup into the path of the whisk attachment. Some of the syrup will spin onto the sides of the bowl but don’t worry about this and don’t try to stir it into the mixture as it will harden!
5.Raise the speed to medium-high and continue beating until the eggs are thick and satiny and the mixture is cool to the touch (about 5 minutes or so).
6.While the egg mixture is beating, place the softened butter in a bowl and mash it with a spatula until you have a soft creamy mass.
7.With the mixer on medium speed, begin adding in two-tablespoon chunks. When all the butter has been incorporated, raise the mixer speed to high and beat until the buttercream is thick and shiny.
8.At this point add in your flavouring and beat for an additional minute or so.9.Refrigerate the buttercream, stirring it often, until it’s set enough (firm enough) to spread when topped with a layer of cake (about 20 minutes).
White chocolate ganache/mousse
7 ounces white chocolate
1 cup plus
3 tbsp. heavy cream (35% cream)
*I added two small packets of Real Lime flavoring
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.
3.In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add RealLime
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.
For the glaze - make the glaze right when you’re ready to finish the cake
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 - served slightly chilled. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 day
Line the serving dish the parchment paper. Cut the cakes into the desired shape. Place one layer on the place. Moisten with the syrup. Spread with 1/2 the buttercream or 1/3 of the mousse (like I did). Top with another layer of cake. Repeat layers. Place the final piece of cake on top and moisten with syrup. Now put mousse or the remained on top. Top with the glad. Refrigerate the cake again to set the glaze. Serve the cake slightly chilled. This recipe will yield approximately 20 servings.