My Favorite Opera of All

Possessing an attention span that can barely stretch through any movie of average length, I’ve honestly never felt compelled to go see any sort of opera. However, I think I’ve found one version that I can not only stand, but enjoy; The kind made of cake and buttercream! This is one dessert that I’ve been itching to make for ages, but there was simply never an occasion to go out on a limb and try it. Traditionally composed of 3 layers of almond cake soaked in coffee syrup, layered with coffee buttercream, one tier of chocolate mousse and a final topping of chocolate ganache, this assembly is nothing to shake a whisk at. Of course, now that the Daring Bakers have taken the reins on this project, I had to change things up a bit. There was to be no coffee, no dark chocolate- No dark colors of any kind were allowed. Any flavors would do, as long as they fell on the lighter end of the color spectrum.

Put off by these restrictions at first, I whined to myself about how this wouldn’t be a true opera cake… But my enthusiasm soon overruled my stubbornness.

Since this was a complicated ordeal with numerous levels to arrange, I thought about mapping it out before hand. Awed by some drawings made by other pastry chefs, I felt inspired to do the same… But in a medium I was more comfortable in.

My little foam and felt replica turned out to be an invaluable tool when it came time to assemble the many components, even if the proportions were slightly off. For some reason, it seemed like a natural choice to make an Ispahan opera cake, flavored with raspberries, lychees, and rosewater. In case this little picture doesn’t help too much, let me map it all out for you…

…And each layer of cake was to be soaked in lychee syrup. Whew!

Although stressful, the process of making this symphony of flavors was remarkably uneventful. Nothing broke, caught on fire, or exploded in the oven. A good day if you ask me! I was even taking notes so that I could share the recipe… But as always, I got so caught up in the challenge that I eventually forgot to keep jotting down alterations and additions, and my notes remained pages behind me. However, I used the exact same mousse as I featured with my white chocolate post (and used my homemade white chocolate to boot) so that part would be easy enough to replicate. The rest of the cake… Might just be a one-time deal.

Bringing the finished opera cake along for Mother’s Day, I felt almost proud that I could share this decadent dessert with the family that has nurtured me, and encouraged me to reach this point in my pastry “career.”

The final touch was a single raspberry and chocolate piped out into the shape of a treble clef to further the musical theme. Trust me, I had to make many clefs to get enough that were acceptable!

While the cake was a huge hit, what really made the whole project perfect was the fact that I was able to give my felt replica to my [diabetic] Nana. Everyone got to enjoy it, one way or another.

…But that’s not the end of the story yet! There was still extra cake from trimming off the edges, and since things are rarely thrown out in this house, I simply applied a bit of heat to melt down the frosting, mashed it all up, and- Voila! Cake truffles! A quick coat of dark chocolate proved a perfect bittersweet contrast to my ispahan assemblage.

It was a wonderful challenge in just about every way… Now I just need to make the traditional version!

98 thoughts on “My Favorite Opera of All

  1. Oh goodness, your cake looks gorgeous! The little foam model’s absolutely adorable as well. And its such a smart idea to turn the trimmings into truffles! I’m so impressed =D

  2. Wow – your cake is so pretty. I knew nothing about opera cakes before reading this. I’m glad your diabetic Nana got the felt cake. Now she has something that will last much longer (and not on the hips – LOL. The truffles were a great idea for the “leftovers.” You are too smart! :)

  3. I just fainted…what an amazing combination of flavors! Wow. I seriously thought the foam/felt replica was real when I first saw the photo. The truffles are my kind of treat, pop in your mouth all in one bite!

  4. ok, the replica cake is darling!! and the real cake–so pretty! the fact that you make your own vegan white chocolate is totally impressive!

  5. Just one of the combinations I thought of making myself.
    …but the truffle idea is absolutely scrumptious. My cake edges were just snuck for breakfast the next day.

  6. Ooh, I cant believe how great cook you are! Your felt cake was lovely, and then you show the real piece that you can eat! Yummy!
    And the truffles… I just wanted to take a bit, it looked delicious! The cake too, of course!

  7. I have never heard about an opera cake before, but it sounds definitely worth all the work. Great job! And I adore your little model. I also make models for my cakes, but they are just sketched onto some paper.

  8. Real or otherwise, the cakes are wonderful. And a great idea to make truffles. We finished off the scraps right there in the kitchen! :D

  9. Ha! I thought your foam and felt cake was your real cake until I read your post – I marveled at how tidy and even everything was – nice sight gag!

  10. Bravo Hanna! My opéra experience was nothing less than catastrophique! I still have to get my post up, dragging my feet really, because it was just a mess!

  11. I was going to say, wow that first cake looks unreal, .. then realised there was more truth to that statement than I had previously realised.. hehe.

  12. I’m glad you told us that you attempted multiple chocolate clefs in order to get nice ones. I mean, we know you’re amazing, but perfectly piped clefs without clunkers would be ridiculous.

  13. I’ve only enjoyed viewing THREE operas in my life: An opera that I saw in Austria, the Phantom of the Opera stage production on Broadway (does that count? haha), and YOUR opera cake! ;0) Looks marvelous, girl!

  14. Those truffles look amazing… I wish you did have the recipe, as your flavor combo also sounds great.

  15. Just divine! I love the treble and your flavor combo. And I took me to the part where you said FELT to give up thinking how you got your edges so straight. Great job.

  16. what a beautiful cake (felt version too of course!) and i lover your little cake truffle idea – all very fetching!

  17. That’s one fancy cake!

    I know cake truffles by their less classy name (cake balls!), but they still look yummy!

  18. That foam and felt replica is adorable! I thought that was the real cake at first…but the real thing looks even better. Nicely done!

  19. GORGEOUS cake, looks incredibly delicious – so inspiring!! I was desperate to make your recipe for white chocolate for mine but alas, no cocoa butter to be found anywhere in sight…which forced me in another flavour direction. Thank you so much for your sweet compliments Hannah – such kind words from a master like yourself really put the wind back in my sails! :)

  20. I love the inside shot of that truffle — it’s adorable!
    The felt cake and the real cake turned out great! I’ve never been to an opera, but I love musical theatre. I totally identified with you when you mentioned your attention span barely lasts through a movie — me too, me too! If it’s daytime, I get bored, and if it’s nighttime, I fall asleep. :)

  21. Totally excellent in every way. I love the model, and wrote on one of my photos, too. Very different flavor combination — I think I love that about this challenge the most. Everyone has been so different!

  22. That is so incredibly gorgeous and it is making my mouth water. A raspberry flavored cake? Sounds great too good to be true if you ask me! Your creativity when it comes to sweets never seizes to amaze me.

  23. Stop! You are so making me hungry! And all I can bake tonight is brownies from the box! How sad! Lol!
    Wonderful looking cake! Made my mouth water! Can you make me a cake for my birthday inOctober?!!

  24. The truffles are a brillant idea! I just smashed my extras in a a cup and called it trifle. Not nearly as pretty. I chickened out and just used dairy-free white chocolate chips but I really want to make your vegan white chocolate bars soon.

  25. I thought the first one was real!
    mmm vegan layer cake, I would love to taste some of that.

  26. Cake truffles, what a novel idea. I love the flavorings you chose. I never ended up trimming as I was in a hurry to put it on the table for my fathers birthday.

    Great job, it looks amazing!

  27. You did a wonderful job on your opera cake. I love the opera cake truffles too. This flavor combination is a fabulous one…so rich and decadent.

    Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

  28. Now that’s planning!!! I love your truffle idea – my son and I ate the edges before you could say “Don’t bother melting the chocolate – it’s gone.” :) Beautiful job!

  29. Thank you for the compliment but my drawings pale in comparison to the lovely three dimensional creations you come up with! Both the edible and non-edible versions of your opera cake look beautiful! It seems that creativity oozes out of your pores.

  30. Gorgeous! The color combination is beautiful.

    I still have leftover cake trimmings in the fridge, though I did use some of the extra ganache to coat strawberries. I hate wasting, too!

  31. OMG! The felt Opera is just wonderful! My aunt keeps raving about the one you made me for Christmas! I love your interpretation of the challenge. Way to go!

  32. Ooo wow it looks great! At first I thought your felt replica was the real thing haha. I didn’t have time to make this cake this month but I’m very intrigued by the opera cake! I’ve never heard of it before.

  33. Wow it looks great and delicious !! :-D you are an artist dear!
    Congrats for the opera cake because it’s really outstanding!
    Very good job indeed!

  34. You are a riot! Seriously cool that you made a felt cake to prepare for the real deal – and how pretty they both turned out! Great job!

  35. this looks so good! i can’t wait to try your homemade white chocolate recipe.

    you got me on the “fake” cake…i thought “my how perfect her cake is.”

    great job!

  36. ok, I don’t think my comments would make any difference now but I just want to say…. hannah, you are SOOOO talented!!!!!!!!! thanks for showing the world that vegan baking can still look and taste as yummy as the non-vegan ones out there :) I really love your ‘foam’ cake too …. i wish i can make them myself

  37. Oh my goodness!! Again, I say this, you are VERY very clever and creative!

    Love it all! The truffles are a good idea, will try that next time I have trimmings.


  38. I would have never guessed that was a foam model! It looked good enough to eat. But the real cake looked even better. Great job!

  39. I LOVE the fact that you made a felt and foam replica before you got started. I sketched my cake out on paper and it really helped me to visualize how the cake should turn out. Your cake looks fabulous, how you could possibly me jealous of my straight layers I will never know! Let me further compliment you on the fact that you made this recipe with your own vegan white chocolate! I’m so impressed, I’m close to swooning!!! Onto my blogroll and into my feed reader you go, you’re my new heroine!

  40. Wow, what a wonderful job! A woman after my own heart planning it all out and even making a model (something my husband would do). Your cake turned out so beautiful! Lovely! And truffles look to die for!

  41. awesome Hannah!
    That looks so beautiful. I love your felt mock-up, and that you got to give it to your Nana. That is so sweet. The Chocolate Treble Clef is outstanding. I have been wanting to make your white chocolate for so long, but I can’t find any cocoa butter in these parts. This weekend I’m driving up to San Francisco, so hopefully I can get some there. Yum!

    :) Amey

  42. I visited many blos to check out there entries for this months Daring Bakers challenge and your entry is by far the pretties i have seen. Would you please share your recipe?

  43. I can’t decide which cakey bit is my favorite in this post!! I love the felt one…but somehow I think the other would taste better. :-) Wonderful!!!

  44. I STILL want to make cake truffles! You know…I thought the felt ones were the real ones, but now I see the sharpness in the real ones! Glad your nana got to enjoy a piece of her own despite the diabetes.

  45. I can’t decide which I want more.. the foam and felt cutie or that luscious looking edible slice! You did an amazing job with both, Hannah! Love them!


  46. I’m so impressed by everything: the model, your craft skills, the photos, and the cake! Beautiful, beautiful job! I wish I could sew and crochet like you do!

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