Opera Cake

Opera Cake

Opera Cake

One of Patrick’s favourite things to do in the kitchen is make buttercream and decorate cakes – he even has an entire instagram page devoted to his cake decorations (Check it out here: www.instagram.com/pogicakes). So when we decided to bake a cake for a friend, buttercream was at the forefront of our minds. This decadent cake consists of layers of sponge cake, buttercream and chocolate ganache, topped with a layer of chocolate glaze. We chose to serve our cake sliced, decorated with edible gold paint, but traditionally the cake would be served whole, with the word “Opera” piped on top in chocolate ganache. Either way, it’s a decadent hit of chocolate and coffee goodness best to share with friends so you aren’t tempted to go for a second slice!

Joconde Sponge Cake:

  • 85g   almond meal
  • 75g   icing sugar
  • 25g   plain flour
  • 120g eggs (around 2 medium eggs)
  • 80g   egg whites
  • 10g   caster sugar
  • 30g   butter, melted

Preheat oven to 200°C. Mix together the almonds, icing sugar and flour in a bowl. Add the eggs a little at a time and mix well until the batter becomes smooth and pale. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites and sugar together until they form stiff peaks. Gently fold the batter into the whipped egg whites, then fold in the melted butter.

Spread the mixture on a baking sheet lined with baking paper to 5mm thickness, smoothing the mixture to ensure an even layer across the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cake is golden and firm to the touch. Remove form the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack.

Coffee Buttercream:

  • 5g instant coffee
  • 15ml boiling water
  • 250g sugar
  • 60ml water
  • 90g egg yolks
  • 300g butter, softened
  • 4ml vanilla extract
  1. Dissolve the instant coffee in 15ml of boiling water and set aside to cool.
  2. Combine the sugar and 60ml water in a saucepan and place over a medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Continue to boil until the sugar syrup reaches 115°
  3. While the syrup is boiling, beat the egg yolks until they are thick and pale.
  4. As soon as the syrup reaches 115°C, pour it slowly into the egg yolks, continuing to whisk constantly.
  5. Continue to beat until the mixture has completely cooled. The yolks should be very thick and pale.
  6. Continue beating the mixture as you add the butter a little at a time.
  7. Beat in the vanilla and coffee mixture. If the buttercream is too soft to spread, refrigerate until it becomes firmer.

Dessert Syrup

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tsp instant coffee

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and bring the boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add the coffee and stir well.

Chocolate Ganache

  • 200g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 250g double cream

Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a hot water bath. Heat the cream and add to the chocolate. Mix well and chill.

Opera Glaze

  • 350g dark chocolate couverture
  • 60g peanut oil

Melt chocolate in a bowl set over a hot water bath. Stir in the oil. Allow to cool a little before using. (Makes a thin coating which sets solid but can easily be cut with a hot knife)

To assemble:

  • Joconde Sponge Cake
  • 50g dark chocolate, melted
  • Dessert Syrup
  • Coffee Buttercream
  • Chocolate Ganache
  • Opera Glaze
  1. Cut the sponge into 3 equal rectangular portions. Spread one piece with a think layer of dark chocolate, then refrigerate to set the chocolate
  2. Remove the chocolate coated sponge from the refrigerator, turn chocolate side down and brush with the Dessert Syrup.
  3. Spread a layer of Coffee Buttercream above the sponge rectangle, about 5mm thick.
  4. Place the second sponge rectangle on top. Brush with the syrup and then spread a thin layer of Chocolate Ganache on top.
  5. Top with the third and final layer of sponge. Brush with the syrup and spread with a layer of Coffee Buttercream, about 5mm thick. Smooth the top carefully with a palette knife.
  6. Refrigerate or freeze until firm. The cake must be quite cold so the warm glaze doesn’t melt the buttercream.
  7. Place the cake on a wire rack over a tray and pour over the warm Opera Glaze. Smooth the surface with a palette knife and refrigerate the cake until the glaze has set.
  8. Remove cake from the rack and trim the sides of the cake with a hot knife.

To Serve:

  • ¼ tsp gold powder
  • ½ tsp gin

If you like, cut the cake into rectangular slices approximately 5cm x 10cm. Mix together the gold powder and gin, and using a fine paintbrush, decorate the top of each slice with a triangle of golden glaze. Use a piece of baking paper cut to purpose as a guide to ensure a uniform triangle on each slice of cake.

Alternatively, using chocolate ganache, you could pipe the word “Opera” onto the top of the entire cake and serve whole.

Glazed Chocolate Mousse and Cherry Sorbet with Almond and Pistachio Crumb

20180307_213757Here’s another Recipe Road invention we created for our friend’s birthday party a few weeks ago. We wanted a rich chocolate dessert to finish the night, but hoped to cut through the richness with something fresh and light. As we had featured cherries in our main dish (Roasted Pork Rack with Cherries and Onions), we decided to link the two dishes by making a cherry sorbet. The combination worked beautifully, with the sorbet cleansing the palate between each bite of the rich chocolate mousse. The almond and pistachio crumb adds a bit of texture and crunch to the dish so it has everything, really! We hope you enjoy.

Serves 6 people.

Chocolate Mousse:

  • 225g dark chocolate (70% cocoa), chopped
  • 160g butter
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 110g icing sugar
  • 90g cocoa powder
  • 3 egg whites
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 90ml thickened cream, whipped

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl set above a pan of simmering water. Once melted and combined, set aside to cool. Once the mixture has cooled to room temperature, stir in the egg yolks with a spatula. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder into the chocolate mixture, and stir well to combine. In another bowl, beat the egg whites and sugar to make a soft peak meringue. Gently fold the meringue and then the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. Pour the mixture into a 1 inch-deep baking tray lined with cling film and transfer to the freezer to set.

Cherry Sorbet:

  • 100g raw sugar
  • 300g cherries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 egg white
  • 550g ice cubes

Pour sugar into a sturdy food processor (we used a thermomix). Mill on a high speed for 10 seconds (Thermomix speed 9). Add the cherries, egg white and 350g of the ice cubes and blend for 20 seconds, starting at a low speed and gradually increasing to maximum speed (Thermomix speed 10). Add the remaining ice and blend for around 1 minute more, until the mixture has reached a smooth consistency. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Store in an airtight container in the freezer until ready to serve.

Golden Honey Glaze:

  • ½ tsp gin
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • ¼ tsp gold powder

Mix the gin and honey in a bowl, once the mixture becomes thinner, add the gold powder and mix well.

Toasted Golden Almonds:

  • 42 whole almonds, halved lengthways
  • ½ of the Golden Honey Glaze

Toast the halved almonds and then brush with the golden honey glaze. Set aside on a tray to dry.

Chocolate Glaze:

  • 2 gelatine sheets (8g)
  • 50g water
  • 85g sugar
  • 35g cocoa powder
  • 45g cream

Bloom the gelatin by soaking it in cold water. In a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar and cocoa powder, and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat immediately. In a separate saucepan, warm the cream, then combine it with the chocolate mixture. Add the gelatin, stir to combine and set aside. Cool the mixture to room temperature to glaze.

Glazed Chocolate Mousse

  • Chocolate Mousse
  • Chocolate Glaze
  • Toasted Golden Almonds

Once the mousse is set, use a 6cm round cookie cutter to cut 6 rounds from the mousse. Rinse the cutter in warm water between cutting each round of mousse. Set the rounds on a cooling rack and pour a little of the glaze over each one, making sure the sides are fully covered. Remove the rounds from the cooling rack and set on a tray lined with baking paper. Decorate the sides of each mousse round with the Toasted Golden Almonds.

 Almond and Pistachio Crumb:

  • ¼ cup almonds
  • ¼ cup pistachio kernels
  • 5 savoury crackers (we used Eton crackers)
  • A handful of cornflakes

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend to a rough crumb consistency. Set aside.

To serve:

  • ½ of the Golden Honey Glaze
  • Almond and Pistachio Crumb
  • Glazed Chocolate Mousse
  • Cherry Sorbet
  • 18 micro mint leaves

Across one side of each plate, paint a 4cm stripe of Golden Honey Glaze. On the opposite side of the plate, place a small pile of Almond and Pistachio Crumb, and create a small well in the centre of the pile. Place the Glazed Chocolate Mousse on the stripe. Quenelle the Cherry Sorbet and place in the well of the crumb. Decorate with 3 micro mint leaves and serve.