It's a layers of art and delicacy.
A wonderful stacks of thin La Gioconda sheets layered with luxurious dark chocolate combined with a rich and silky-smooth coffee cream.
Take one bite and taste it slowly, enjoy the exploration of creamy-velvety sheets as you will never have the next bites, then you’ll reach the top of the most sophisticated confectionery ever, which will turn you on to a gastronomical orgasm. Believe me!
La Gioconda, or Joconde in English, is the crucial component in Opera Cake. It’s a thin and spongy almond cake, gives a very special flavour and brings an elegance as it meets the ganache and coffee cream layers.
I’ve tried many Joconde recipes in my journey to find the ultimate Opera Cake recipe. At my last trial I found this recipe is the best I ever tried. It’s very easy and failproof then I decide to finish my journey of Joconde research.
Here I translate it for you as my appreciation to Ita Kusnita as the owner of the Joconde recipe :)
Sorry, this picture is not my original one. I took it from http://www.scena.org since I can't yet make a good photo to represent its luxury.
(written by Ita Kusnita under title of “Opera Cake” in NCC mailinglist, I modified it a little bit)
200 gr finely ground almond (Ita used almond powder or cashewnut powder)
100 gr caster sugar (Ita used 150gr)
50 gr butter, melted
60 gr all purpose flour (Ita used 55gr)
115 gr egg whites
55 gr confectioner sugar
Prepare six pans (22 x 22 cm), greased and lined with baking paper.
In a large bowl combine ground almond, caster sugar and 3 eggs, beat at high speed for 10 minutes, scraping often.
Add remaining eggs one at a time, continue to beat for another 10 minutes.
Save the mixture for about 2 woodenspoons, stir in melted butter until combined, set aside.
Add flour to the remaining mixture, mix well.
In another bowl, beat egg whites til foamy, add confectioner sugar gradually and continue to beat until soft peaks formed.
Spoon white eggs and combine to the almond mixture gradually, add the reserved butter mixture, blend thoroughly.
Divide and spread into prepared pans, bake for 10 minutes in 200(C). Cool completely, remove from pans. Let baking paper stick on the cake until assembling the opera.
After making Ita's Joconde, here are the key components you cant't skip at all:
500 ml fresh cream or any kind of cream, but don't use the sour one
500 gr dark chocolate (bitter sweet chocolate, or dark couverture for richer taste), chopped
200 gr salted butter (note that I always use the salted one)
Put the chocolate in a medium bowl.
Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until just warm.
Pour over chocolate, stir well.
Add butter, continue to stir until mixture is smooth.
Let stand 15 minutes to thicken slightly, divide into 7 parts.
Mix well and divide into 6 parts:
750 gr whipped cream
2 tsp instant coffee or espresso, dissolved in 3 tbs boiled water
Boiled & let cool:
150 ml water
100 gr sugar
2 tbs instant coffee or espresso
There are various way to assemble Opera, you can find many on internet. Some only give ganache layer for every two sheets of Joconde, alternate with coffee cream. Some others only put ganache layers without coffee cream. My Opera, has all components in every stack, and it's a must! One Joconde (moistened with coffee syrup), one coffee cream layer, one ganache layer. Now… let’s assemble and create the artwork ;)
Place one sheet of joconde upside down (top of the cake on bottomside), peel off the baking paper.
Brush thoroughly with coffee syrup until moist.
Spread one part of coffee cream evenly over the cake.
Pour one part of ganache mixture over the cream, let cool in chiller for 2 minutes.
Cover with another sheet of joconde, always upside down and peel off the paper of course (see, unremoved baking paper makes you easier to handle the very thin joconde sheets during assembling).
Repeat above steps until all jocondes, coffee cream and the 6th part of ganache stacked completely. Chill for 10 minutes.
Heat and stir remaining ganache over low heat just until simmer, pour evenly on the top, giving a smooth and shiny final touch to the cake like opera floor :) Chill for another 15 minutes or some.
Trim the sides thinly to remove excess cream & ganache, and… to reveal the layers of art and delicacy ;)
Serve it as a luxurious semifreddo dessert on your special occasion.
(picture, courtesy of http://www.scena.org)
and this is the original version of Ita Kusnita.