Happy New Year .........I know I'm a bit late in greeting you....I wish to welcome 2015 with an elegant and splendid one for you. I had plan to make this cake a few months before but while reading the various steps, I felt lazy......On this Jan 6th, my love, Anish and my loving youngest brother, Rahul share their birthday. So, while thinking about them, I don't know where my laziness flew away :-). Again, this time I love to make some chocolaty for my chocolate boy :-). Last year I made chocolate feather bed cake for his birthday.
Life becomes more exciting when we try new stuffs....no matter pass or fail.. right? By Gods grace, this was really a winning experience that I could even present it as in my imagination. Even though we and Rahul are miles apart, we enjoyed sharing it virtually........
About the history of the cake....The cake was first introduced by Louis Clichy and was named as Gateau Clichy and it was reintroduced by another Parisian patisserie called Dalloyau . The cake has been served at a French American reception held at the Opera house in 1930's.
No matter what history is but I must say....this is definitely a competitor for Tiramisu. Layers of almond sponge soaked in coffee syrup sandwiched between coffee butter cream and chocolate ganache. I thank chef Gary Mehigan for the simplest recipe for Gateau Opera in the master chef Australia .
I kicked off the race with coffee essence, then chocolate ganache followed by coffee syrup subsequently butter cream, afterwards Jaconde and then some melted chocolate to seal the jaconde. I suggest to buy almond meal from the store rather than making at home, as it is much time consuming and sifting will take much effort. Ensure that you have a candy thermometer and food weighing scale.
I don't have a coffee maker so made coffee essence with instant espresso (Nescafe) , water and sugar on stove top and it came out well. But don't worry about the list of layers to be made, its all turned to be worthy when you taste it.....
150 g of almond meal
150 g of icing / confectioner's sugar
60 g of all purpose flour
4 whole eggs
45 g of melted butter
4 egg whites
40 g caster sugar (powdered granulated white sugar)
1/2 cup of sugar
230 ml of water
5 tablespoons of instant espresso
250 g white sugar
2 tablespoons of coffee essence
250 ml of water
5 large egg yolks
300 g caster sugar
500 g of butter (softened)
3 tablespoons of coffee essence
300 ml heavy cream (I used whipping cream)
400 g semi sweet chocolate (Ghirardelli) (see Note #2)
300 g of butter (softened)
To seal the bottom:
30 g of semi sweet chocolate
White Wilton candy melts
To make the coffee essence:
Mix all the ingredients together in a sauce pan. Do not stir the ingredients but you can swirl the pan to see that sugar is dissolved. Bring it to boil in low heat till you get the syrupy consistency and looks glossy.
To make the chocolate ganache:
Chop the chocolate bar into small pieces into a bowl and add in the butter . Bring the whipping cream to boil over medium flame and then pour it over the chocolate mixture. With your heat resistant rubber spatula, mix it until well combined. Refrigerate until set.
To make the coffee syrup:
Combine all the ingredients together in a sauce pan over medium flame. Boil it stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce the heat to low and continue heating for five minutes. Allow it to cool at room temperature.
To make the butter cream:
Before going ahead, make sure that the butter is softened and cut into small pieces. Keep your candy thermometer ready.
In a saucepan, put the caster sugar and dampen with a little water (2-3 tablespoons) and place onto the stove for boiling brushing edges down with pastry brush dipped in water to prevent crystallization. Allow the sugar syrup to boil to soft ball (till the thermometer reads 121oC/225oF). In the meantime, beat the egg yolks till light and fluffy on high speed using an electric mixer.
When the sugar mixture comes to the temperature as stated above, add it to the egg yolks, in a slow stream, whisking continuously until we finish the addition. Continue to beat on low speed until the mixture cools to room temperature.
Once it is cooled, gradually add butter and three table spoons of coffee essence and continue beating till well incorporated.
Preheat your oven to 392oF/200oC and line the parchment paper on a baking sheet or jelly roll pan. I had to use two baking sheet pans one is of 12.25 X 8.25 inch and 11 X 8 inch (See Note #5) . Keep the melted and then cooled to room temperature butter ready.
Sift the dry ingredients - almond meal and icing sugar together and then flour. Whisk it with your wire whisk and set aside. (See Note #1). Whisk the whole eggs till very light, fluffy and falls almost like a ribbon. Now fold in the dry ingredients and pour the melted butter over it and fold it well until everything combined well. (See Note #4)
In another bowl, beat your egg whites to soft peaks and then add sugar until well incorporated. Fold the egg white mixture into the yolk mixture and spread into two baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 5 to 8 minutes till light golden around the edges and a tooth pick inserted comes out clean. (Mine took 8 minutes, which depends on the oven). Immediately trim the edges and set aside to cool.
Melt 30 g of chocolate in microwave or stove top, stirring in between. (Shave it and melt it which would be easier).
Cut the jaconde into two or three equal portions, which forms as sheet layers. Brush one sheet of Jaconde with the melted chocolate and turn over into the cake board or parchment paper or a plate. Now brush the almond sponge or jaconde generously with coffee syrup and apply a thin and even layer of butter cream. Place another jaconde sheet on the top, pressing gently. Again, brush with coffee syrup and apply a thin and even layer of chocolate ganache on its top.
Repeat the layers again and finish the top with a thicker layer of ganache and smoothen it with your spatula or a wide knife. Now it's time for the Opera to take rest in the refrigerator to set :-).
When it is set, trim the edges with a hot knife, wiped dry with kitchen towel or napkin . Heat and wipe the knife each time before cutting.
Top the Opera as you desire- dust cocoa powder or chocolate decorations or edible gold leaf or anything you like.
#1. Sift the almond flour and icing sugar together. If you sift almond flour alone, it is very difficult to come out from the sifter. You might have the tendency to rub the almond flour when it is down from the sifter as a slow rain but don't do it as it tends to form a thick coating on your sifter and then it becomes more tough .(idi vettiya aalae paambu kadicha avastha aakum :-) :-))
#2. The original recipe calls for dark chocolate where ever the term "chocolate" is mentioned but I used Ghirardelli semi sweet chocolate due to our personal preference.
#3. By hook or by crook, if your chocolate ganache had to rest in the refrigerator for a long time or it became hard set, microwave for 30 seconds and stir it with rubber spatula. Another way is bring it to room temperature for some time. With a rubber spatula, just stir it till you get the right consistency.
#4. Do not over fold the mixture as it may cause deflation off eggs and may result in ruin your entire batter of Jaconde.
#5. If you have a big jelly roll pan or baking sheet, the time must be reduced to half.
#6 No need to grease the parchment paper.
Thank Lord ! as you turned my efforts fruitful. Anish knew I'll be baking and preparing one for his b'day....but I didn't tell the name or any info about the cake. He was forbidden to ask about the cake. When the surprise revealed, his eyes got mesmerized .When he tasted, he told me "The best birthday gift". He packed a few pieces for his colleagues and they shared their happiness with good words and everything made me thrilled and energized to move on........... :-)