Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Going to L'Opéra

This month's Daring Bakers challenge was a bit scary. We had to make Opéra cakes! I have never heard of an Opéra cake before and it was a very long recipe that involved lots of folding, something I have ruined many a dessert from not doing right.

I made these over the weekend. It was perfect timing because my sister's birthday was on Monday and I made mini Opéra cakes so everyone could try a bit.

Usually Opéra cakes are chocolate in flavor, but the hosts for this month, Fran of Apple Peaches Pumpkin Pie, Shea of Whiskful, and the co-founders Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice and Lis of La Mia Cucina, wanted these cakes to be in honor of the blog event "A Taste of Yellow" and the season of spring, for the northern hemisphere! We had to make sure our cakes were light in color. I decided to make a raspberry flavored cake.

I didn't see almond meal at my local grocery stores and I didn't feel like hunting for a health food store, so I just bought some almonds, blanched them, and put them in the food processor with a bit of flour to make my own almond meal. I felt like the joconde had a bit of a grainy texture, which is because I couldn't get the almonds fine enough, so I would prefer a finer grain, but it turned out well.

I love having my Kitchen Aid for this! I also love Alton Brown!

Kitchen Aid+Alton Brown=Robyn actually being able to fold!!!

With the Kitchen Aid, I was able to walk around and do other things while it was mixing, so I didn't get bored and I may have given up too early when mixing it with a hand mixer. I saw an episode of Good Eats when Alton Brown was doing some food that needed to be folded, and I saw him add the folds in thirds. I decided to try that for the joconde and the mousse and it worked a treat! I actually had a lot of air still in both and it didn't flatten.

I'm not a fan of white chocolate, so I ended up making a flavored glaze that didn't taste like white chocolate at all. It turned out fantastic and wasn't too runny at all. It actually cooled a bit too thick, so I had to heat it up before pouring it on the cakes. I didn't get the glaze as smooth and to the edges as I wanted, but it still looked nice.

For the assembly, I really feel it was easiest to make the cupcakes. I don't have any biscuit cutters, or round cookie cutters, so I used an egg ring to cut the joconde. It worked just fine. I put the buttercream in a pastry bag and piped it onto each layer of cake. It seemed piping would be the easiest way to get the buttercream neatly on the cakes. I also did this in another bag for the mousse. It didn't seem to flatten the mousse much, but the mousse did flatten once the glaze was poured on top and it set in the fridge.

The taste? These were really good! I thought it had a bit too much raspberry flavor, but apparently that was just me. Nobody else had that complain, even when I said I thought that and would change it next time.

For the original recipe and the techniques, you can visit any of the hostess's websites. I am posting the recipes I used for the glaze and mousse (for the buttercream, all I did was add some puréeed raspberries until it had a good color and flavor).

Raspberry Glaze (Thanks, Sandra!)

200g heavy cream, divided (13.5 Tbsp or 3/4 cup + 1.5 Tbsp or 6.71 fl oz)
50g sugar (1/4 cup)
40g glucose or corn syrup (2 Tbsp)
50g white chocolate (1.76 oz)
5g unflavored gelatin (2.15 tsp)
1 tsp aroma or liquor of your choice
40g fruit pulp or puree
a drop of food coloring (optional)

  1. Sprinkle gelatin over 1/5 cup (40g) of the cream in a small bowl and let stand for 10 minutes to soften (allow to soften while making the syrup).
  2. Mix cream, sugar and glucose or corn syrup in a saucepan, bring to boil. Continue cooking for 4 - 5 min stirring continuously.
  3. Add the chocolate and stir it in to melt completely. Remove from heat and add the gelatin/cream mixture, stirring until dissolved.
  4. Add the aroma or liquor, the fruit puree and the food coloring. Mix well and let cool until smooth and almost creamy.
  5. Refrigerate to set.
Raspberry Mousse

1 lb ripe raspberries
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon Raspberry Twisted Smirnoff (or similar)
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 1/4 cups heavy cream (or whipping cream)
  1. Puree the raspberries together with the confectioners' sugar in a blender.
  2. Whip the cream to stiff peaks.
  3. Carefully fold the cream into the pureed raspberries.
  4. Place in refrigerator to set.


Made by Lena