Creole Opera Cake

January 10, 2012

Creole Opera Cake

Opera cake is a type of French cake that uses almond flour and is made into coffee syrup-soaked layers incorporating buttercream and ganache and topped off with a chocolate glaze – a delicate, yet decadent, layer cake. The cake was popularized by the Parisienne bakery Dalloyau.

This delicious Creole version comes from Chef Carlos Guia at Commander’s Palace and uses pecans instead of almonds in the sponge cake; a pecan praline sauce instead of a chocolate glaze and a generous helping of southern bourbon is used in the syrup and Chantilly (which can of course be left out for those who would prefer not to use alcohol). Chef Carlos also uses chicory coffee, but you can use regular if you prefer.

This is a complex recipe, but well worth the effort - it will be delicious!

Chef’s note: you will need a food processor and a floured and buttered 12x15 sheet pan.

Creole Opera Cake makes 6-8 servings.

Pecan Sponge Cake Ingredients:
3 Tablespoons cake flour (sifted) 
2 large eggs 
2/3 cup pecans 
1/3 cup all purpose flour 
1/2 cup powdered sugar (sifted) 
2 large egg whites 
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar 
1/8 teaspoon salt 
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar 
2 Tablespoon unsalted butter (melted)

*Chicory Coffee Buttercream Ingredients:
½ cup freshly brewed chicory coffee (you can use regular)
1 teaspoon coffee paste 
6 Tablespoons sugar 
2 large egg yolks 
½ cup unsalted butter (small cubes)

**Bourbon Coffee Syrup Ingredients:
1 cup freshly brewed chicory coffee 
½ cup granulated sugar 
¼ cup Maker’s Mark®

***Chocolate Glaze Ingredients:
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter 
7 ounces dark chocolate

~Bourbon Chantilly Ingredients:
1 cup heavy whipping cream 
¼ cup granulated sugar 
1/8 cup Maker’s Mark®

~~Caramel Sugar Decoration Ingredients:
1 cup water 
1 cup granulated sugar 
1/8 cup light corn syrup 
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

~~~Pecan Praline Sauce Ingredients:
2 cups cream 
4 ounces sugar 
1 tablespoon light corn syrup 
½ cup pecans

Directions for the Pecan Sponge Cake:
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. 
In food processor combine pecans and all-purpose flour, grind until fine powder. 
Beat whole eggs on high to ribbon stage. Reduce speed, add pecan flour, powdered sugar and mix until just combined. 
Sift cake flour over mixture and fold in. 
Beat egg whites until foamy. Add salt and cream of tartar. 
Beat to soft peaks and add sugar. Beat to stiff peaks. 
Temper pecan mixture into meringue. 
Fold in butter. 
Pour mixture onto a floured and buttered 12x15 sheet pan, spreading very thin and evenly. 
Bake for eight to ten minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool.

Directions for the *Chicory Coffee Buttercream:
In a heavy bottom saucepot reduce coffee and sugar by half. 
Whip yolks to ribbon stage. While yolks are still mixing pour steady stream of coffee sugar mixture down side of mixing bowl until fully incorporated. 
Whip until cool. Slowly add butter. 
Whip until combined.

Directions for the **Bourbon Coffee Syrup: 
In a heavy bottom saucepot, combine sugar and coffee. 
Reduce by half. Remove from fire and whisk in Maker’s Mark®. 

Directions for the ***Chocolate Glaze: 
Combine ingredients in a bowl and melt over double boiler.

Directions for the ~Bourbon Chantilly: 
In mixing bowl combine all ingredients and whip to stiff peaks.

Directions for the ~~Caramel Sugar Decorations: 
In heavy bottom saucepot bring sugar and water to boil. 
Reduce heat and add corn syrup and return to a boil. Cook to 240 degrees and add cream of tartar. 
Cook to 315 degrees, brushing down sides of pot with cold water to prevent over-caramelization and re-crystallization of sugar. 
Shock in ice bath for 30 seconds. 
Using a teaspoon (scoop mixture onto parchment or waxed paper) make eight to ten inch straight lines and eight to ten inch squiggly lines. Let cool.

Directions for the ~~~Pecan Praline Sauce: 
In a heavy bottom saucepot, combine one cup of cream, sugar and syrup, stirring occasionally. 
Reduce by half and cook to a caramel color. 
Remove from heat and add pecans. 
Thin down with the remaining cream.

Directions for Assembling Creole Opera Cake:
Cut Pecan Sponge Cake into three rectangles. 
Place one rectangle on waxed paper, and soak with**Bourbon Coffee Syrup, making sure sponge cake is thoroughly saturated. 
Spread ½ *Chicory Coffee Buttercream on top evenly with an off-set spatula. 
Place another rectangle on top and brush with ½ remaining **Bourbon Coffee Syrup. 
Spread ½ ***Chocolate Glaze evenly over top just to edges. 
Top with the last Pecan Sponge Cake rectangle. 
Brush with remaining**Bourbon Coffee Syrup. 
Spread remaining *Chicory Coffee Buttercream evenly over top. 
Reheat remaining ***Chocolate Glaze in double boiler just until spreadable. 
Pour remaining ***Chocolate Glaze over top of cake, spreading evenly. 
Chill for 30 - 45 minutes to let cake set up. 
Trim edges and cut into 3" triangles. 
Top with rosette of ~Bourbon Chantilly, chocolate curls and ~~Caramel Sugar Decorations. 
Spoon one tablespoon ~~~Pecan Praline Sauce around cake.