My favourite cake to make is Opera Cake. Made with coffee flavoured buttercream and dense, rich ganache all beautifully layered between coffee soaked torte. It looks super elegant and very sophisticated, but underneath all that glam is some straightforward, delicious goodness. If you’re hankering for a mocha fix, this recipe has got you covered.
Now, I know a lot of people are looking at this cake and thinking to themselves; “that looks too complicated” or “this is out of my skill zone.” I hope if you are thinking that, these words will help ease some of your concern. This recipe is all about layering, and presentation. Nothing about any one particular step is overly complicated. The main tool you’ll have to use is just your patience.
Furthermore, any time you cook or bake, you should really strive to make the star ingredient shine as best as you can. In this particular case, this is the chocolate and to make it really stand out, we need higher quality. In other terms, don’t cheap out and use Hershey chipits or a similar brand. Go to your local bulk store and buy some chocolate coverature, or get some bakers chocolate. Your taste buds will thank you later.
I am going to organize this recipe into different steps. Step 1 is making the torte, Step 2 is making the fillings, step 3 is constructing, step 4 is glazing and finishing.
Step 1 – The Torte.
What you need:
- 88 g icing sugar
- 88 g almond flour
- 2 whole eggs
- 25 g bread flour (all-purpose okay too)
- 3 egg whites
- 30 g sugar
- pinch of cream of tartar
What you need to do.
Whisk together icing sugar, almond flour and whole eggs until well combined. Fold in bread flour and set aside.
In separate, clean and dry bowl, whisk egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar to medium peaks.
Fold egg white mixture into the almond flour mixture 1/3 at a time, being careful not to over mix and deflate mixture.
Pour into parchment lined shallow cookie tray (1/4 quarter baking tray) measuring roughly 13 x 9 x 1 inches. Making sure to evenly distribute mixture over pan.
Bake at 420 F for roughly 12 minutes. Or until torte is golden brown.
Step 2 – Fillings
What you need
- 100 g dark chocolate roughly chopped
- 55 g cream
- 3 g honey
- 10 g butter, room temperature
What you need to do
Boil cream and honey, pour over chocolate and butter. Let sit for 1 -2 minutes and stir until smooth and completely blended.
If you notice that the chocolate is splitting or is not completely blended, warm mixture over a pot of boiling water (bain-marie ). Cover and set aside for later use.
- 1 spoonful instant coffee mix
- 1 spoonful hot water
- 64 g sugar
- 8 g corn syrup
- 40g milk
- 115 g butter, room temperature
Combine hot water and instant coffee, set aside for later.
Bring, sugar, corn syrup and milk to a boil. Let cool to room temperature (whisking will make it cool faster). Once cool, whisk in butter gradually.
Add instant coffee, water solution a little bit at a time until desired taste is achieved (you will not need all of it).
Butter cream should be smooth, with no specks of colour in it. If your buttercream isn’t smooth or has specks of colour, continue mixing and place over a bain-marie to warm slightly. If buttercream is too runny (at room temperature), add a little bit of icing sugar to firm it up. If buttercream is too stiff, add a little milk.
Step 3 – Constructing
What you need:
- 1 cup Strong coffee with 2 tbsp of sugar in it
- 50 g melted chocolate
Remove torte from tray, being careful to keep torte intact. Divide torte into 3 pieces lengthwise. So you should have 3 pieces roughly 9 x 4.3 inches, Top, Middle and Bottom layer.
With bottom layer of torte, coat bottom with thin layer of chocolate. set aside until firm.
With Bottom layer of torte, chocolate side down, lightly dab coffee onto torte. Coat with half of the buttercream, spreading it evenly.
Place middle layer of torte on top of buttercream and lightly dab with coffee. Coat with half of the ganache, spreading it evenly.
Place top layer of torte over ganache and lightly dab with coffee. Coat with remaining half of buttercream, and then with remaining half of ganache. Set aside in fridge for 1 hour to firm up.
If you are having trouble spreading the ganache over the buttercream, chill torte before spreading ganache. Also, warming ganache slightly will help with spreading. Any touch ups to spread evenly on this final layer can be done after 1 hour of chilling.
Step 4 – Glazing and finishing.
Remove torte from fridge and touch up any imperfections on final layer of ganache. Making sure it is as smooth as possible by warming an offset spatula slightly to help smooth it out.
What you need:
- 125 g dark chocolate, chopped
- 75 g cream
- 7 g corn syrup
- 20 g butter
What you need to do:
It is the same method as with the ganache. Boil cream and corn syrup and pour over chocolate and butter. Let set for 1-2 minutes and stir until mixture is smooth and blended.
The glaze should be ready to use right after making it. You should be able to pour it easily, but not have it too hot that it will melt through your ganache layer.
With a ladle, or large spoon, pour all over torte. Working quickly with an offset spatula. Even out glaze and spread uniformly over torte. This can also be done by tilting and carefully shaking torte to evenly distribute glaze. To maintain shine of glaze keep the use of offset spatula to a minimum at this stage.
With chef knife or bread knife, trim edges so that all layers are clearly shown and corners are sharp. Divide into 2 square cakes or cut into 2-bite size pieces (roughly 2 inches by 1 inch).
Optionally, you can use left over glaze to pipe on any decorations. Piping “Opera” is the classic decoration of this cake but you are free to decorate as you please 🙂