Come to the Dark Side….

We all have a dark side. Sometimes the devil on our shoulder somehow quells the angel over on the other. I’m sure duct tape is involved.
My parents were lucky…or so I tell them. I was a good kid. Good grades(except when I tried to fail geometry to get a boy I liked to tutor me :P ). No detention, ever. No trouble at school, ever. Pretty much a teacher pet(aka: brown nosing ass kisser). Grounded twice, one of which my mother over turned when she came home(my dad had grounded me). Spanked twice. See, good.
I had my moments though. Where I was not really punished but I got the “disappointed” talk. Which I was probably only one of the few kids this worked on…for nerdy me hated to disappoint my parental unit. One of those disappointing talks came when I was around 7(not sure totally on the age) and my aunt and uncle had come to visit. My cousins, C and C came with them. I have few cousins(my family apparently doesn’t like to breed…me included), but C and C were who I was closest to, for they were my age(give or take). As a treat they brought Ding Dongs with them. I’m pretty sure this is the first time I had ever had one. They were placed in the fridge and we were told that when we got up in the morning to watch cartoons we could eat one for breakfast(let us not judge my parents breakfasts…this was their ploy to sleep in :P ).
I was up first. I ate the chocolate coating from around the Ding Dong. It was good. Then I started to eat the cake part. That wasn’t so good. I picked at the cream in the middle a little and then threw it out. All I kept thinking was how great the chocolate coating was.
At this point is when I believe my shoulder devil ducted tape my shoulder angel down. For I got the great idea to unwrap another Ding Dong. Eat the coating only and then re-wrap it up as if nothing ever happen. That was so good I decided I would do it with the next one. Until I had gone through the whole box.
In case you didn’t guess, somehow I got caught. Apparently my re-wrapping skills are not that great at age 7. Or could it be the chocolate coating-less Ding Dongs.
I was a bad girl and chocolate was involved. Kind of like my contraband Opera Cake. Coincidence? I think not.

Contraband Coffee, Chocolate, Toffee Opera Cake

For almond sponge cake:

3 tablespoons cake flour (not self-rising), sifted after measuring, plus additional for dusting pan
2 whole large eggs at room temperature for 30 minutes
1 cup almond flour (3 1/2 oz) or 2/3 cup blanched whole almonds (see cooks’ note, below)
½  cup confectioners sugar, sifted after measuring
2 large egg whites at room temperature for 30 minutes
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, foam discarded, and butter cooled

Toffee Syrup:
½ cup Torani English Toffee Syrup

For coffee buttercream:
2 teaspoons instant-espresso powder
¼  cup plus 1 tablespoon water
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 stick (½  cup) unsalted butter, cut into ½ -inch cubes and softened

For chocolate buttercream:
¼ cup water
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 stick (½  cup) unsalted butter, cut into ½ -inch cubes and softened
2 ounces melted semisweet chocolate
2 tsp dark cocoa powder

For chocolate glaze
¾  stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
7 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened; preferably 70 to 71% cacao), coarsely chopped

1 cup toffee pieces, chopped finely

Special equipment: a 15- by 10-inch shallow baking pan; an offset metal spatula; a candy thermometer; a small sealable plastic bag

Make sponge cake:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F. Butter baking pan, then line bottom with a sheet of parchment or wax paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang on short sides, and generously butter paper. Dust pan with cake flour, knocking out excess.
Beat whole eggs in a large bowl with a handheld electric mixer at high speed until eggs have tripled in volume and form a ribbon when beaters are lifted, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low, then add almond flour and confectioners sugar and mix until just combined. Resift cake flour over batter and gently fold in.
Beat egg whites in a bowl with cleaned beaters at medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar and salt and beat until whites just hold soft peaks. Add granulated sugar, then increase speed to high and beat until whites just hold stiff peaks.
Fold one third of whites into almond mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly. Fold in butter, then pour batter evenly into baking pan, spreading gently and evenly with offset spatula and being careful not to deflate (batter will be about 1/4 inch thick).
Bake until very pale golden, 8 to 10 minutes, then cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes.
Loosen edges of cake with spatula, then transfer cake (on paper) to a cutting board. Cut cake into strips and squares. Trim outside edges slightly, then carefully peel paper from strips and squares and set back on paper.
Make coffee buttercream:
Stir together espresso powder and 1 tablespoon water until powder is dissolved. Bring sugar and remaining 1/4 cup water to a boil in a very small heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil, without stirring, washing down any sugar crystals on side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water, until syrup registers 238°F on thermometer (soft-ball stage; see cooks’ note, below).
While syrup boils, beat yolks in a large bowl with cleaned beaters at medium speed 1 minute.
Add hot syrup to yolks in a slow stream (try to avoid beaters and side of bowl), beating, then add coffee mixture and beat until completely cool, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in butter, 1 piece at a time, and beat until thickened and smooth.

Make chocolate buttercream:

Bring sugar and remaining 1/4 cup water to a boil in a very small heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil, without stirring, washing down any sugar crystals on side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water, until syrup registers 238°F on thermometer (soft-ball stage; see cooks’ note, below).
While syrup boils, beat yolks in a large bowl with cleaned beaters at medium speed 1 minute.
Add hot syrup to yolks in a slow stream (try to avoid beaters and side of bowl), beating, then add coffee mixture and beat until completely cool, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in butter, 1 piece at a time, and beat until thickened and smooth.
Add chocolate and cocoa powder and mix until thoroughly incorporated.

Make glaze:
Melt butter and all but 2 tablespoons chopped chocolate in a double boiler or in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove top of double boiler and stir in remaining 2 tablespoons chocolate until smooth, then cool glaze until room temperature but still liquid.

Assemble cake:
Put 1 cake square on a plate, then brush generously with one third of toffee syrup. Spread half of buttercream evenly over top with cleaned offset spatula, spreading to edges.(Since I used two different types of buttercream. I layered coffee, chocolate, then coffee. Since you will have leftovers of each kind of buttercream, you can decided which buttercream you want to use the most of).
Arrange both cake strips side by side on top of first layer (any seam will be hidden by next layer), then brush with half of remaining coffee syrup. 
Top with remaining cake square and brush with remaining coffee syrup. Spread remaining buttercream evenly over top, spreading just to edges. Chill cake until buttercream is firm, about 30 minutes.
Reheat remaining glaze over barely simmering water just until shiny and spreadable (but not warm to the touch), about 1 minute. Pour all but 1 tablespoon glaze over top layer of cake and spread evenly just to edges. Top with toffee pieces. Chill cake until glaze is set, about 30 minutes, then trim edges slightly with a sharp serrated knife.

Source: Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, September 2004

 

Comments

  1. So bad, but oh so good! I’ve been wanting to make one of these original opera cakes after that DB challenge…I’ll probably get to it in a few weeks, but MAN does yours look delicious!

  2. Well if anything will make a good girl act out of character it’s wickedly delicious chocolate – like this :) It just looks fantastic!

  3. When it comes to cake like this my angel doesn’t even try to speak up as it knows the little devil will win every time.

  4. Forget the DingDong Topping, just pass me this cake. I’ll eat the whole thing! Wow! yes thank you.
    Promise I’ll be good and clean up.

  5. sinful…

  6. helloo,
    i wanted to request this recipe after seeing in yout blog. But when i came to comment section so many comments i thought u may not see my comment, so just didn’t ask.

    But today i have such wonderful cake recipe i will defentely try this and let you know.

    i have on request is there any substitute for Torani English Toffee Syrup to use. I have coffee liquer kahula

  7. That looks so incredibly tasty :)

  8. Another opera cake – you can’t get enough!

  9. Willpower be damned. Who could resist this photo?

  10. It looks absolutely marvelous! I love the flavor combination!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  11. Oh, my! That looks naughty :)

  12. Oh sweet sweet dark side! I will come over to your dark side anytime if this is what is waiting for me! LURV IT!

  13. Mmm, looks perfect. I am loving this cake. And it’s funny because just last week I was craving a Ding Dong (or King Don as they were called when I was little and lived in MI). I used to LOVE those things. I bet if I ate one now it would make me sick. :P

  14. Oh, that made me laugh. I can only imagine your parents – or the other kids, for that matter – finding all the bitten Ding Dongs. :)
    That opera cake looks amazing, Peabody. I love the layers and the usage of toffee.

  15. Haha, you sound a lot like I was when I was little! Good grades (except the failed subject/predicate test in 3rd grade…I got them reversed!), rarely spanked, etc. My brother, on the other hand…..but he’s turned out good! :-) This looks great! Those cake layers are REALLLY thin!

  16. Haha, you sound like me – I’m a good kid, but I have my devilish moments ;0)

    My goodness, that Coffee-Chocolate-Toffee Opera Cake is FAR superior to Ding Dongs (**shudders at the thought of what Ding Dongs are made of – eek!**)

  17. Miss Peabody, I’m sorry I have to announce you are grounded!!
    At least until I’ve made this version of the Opera! This is about seducing the Husband. Dressed in chocolate. Throw in some toffee for my fun. Did I say I love you?

  18. Oh I am SOOO coming over to the dark side for this one! :)

  19. My mom never punished – it was punishment enough when she was disappointed – so I totally know what you mean! I’m not even a coffee fan, but this looks soooo good!

  20. Toffee Opera Cake!! It looks so yummy. I’m so impressed that you made TWO Opera cakes so close together! The Dark side is so much more yummy. It’ beautiful!

  21. That ding dong story is hysterical!

  22. good god that cake looks friggin awesome!

  23. Are those teeny little things separating the buttercream the jaconde? Good crimeny. I like it.

  24. Ah yes… the “I’m disappointed” speech. My dad could still bring me to my knees in my *thirties* with that one. Thankfully like you, I didn’t disappoint him often. :) And I don’t find anything about your contraband opera disappointing except that it’s there, and I’m here.

  25. Wow, what a beautiful cake. I have been looking for a cake recipe to try this weekend and your photos look too deviously tempting not to try this one out. As to the affects of the dreaded “disapointed” tactic, I don’t think it is the result of being nerdy but rather just having innate respect for your parents, which has got to be due to good genes :)

  26. Lovely.
    It’s fat free, right? ;)

  27. Oh wow I definitely have to make this! I’ve been really craving coffee flavoured anything recently.

  28. I opened this page and jumped up and down. “Yeah, she posted the recipe!” Your opera cake makes my shoulder devil poke me hard and say, “Make it.” My shoulder angel can’t compete.

    I love that you “tried” to fail math to get a cute guy to tutor you.

  29. All I had to do was look at the picture and decide that I’m packing up my family and moving next door to you so I can have your leftovers!!!

  30. Oh yeah……….:)

  31. i got straight As, but always had to be a wiseguy (or wisegirl, i guess), so i earned plenty of spankings! my parents never pulled the “you’re grounded” stuff tho, thankfully. there are so many tempting things about this “illicit” opera cake, but it’s the toffee part that really has my heart racing!

  32. Ha! The ‘disappointed’ talk definitely worked on me too… My Dad wouldn’t even have to give the talk he could just hint that it would disappoint my Mom and that was enough.
    That cake looks amazing!

  33. Oh, my. Thank you for the recipe! Chocolate, coffee, toffee . . . yum!

  34. I like your dark side Pea! Fabulous.

  35. I’ve got to be honest… I think your “dark” version sounds even better than the challenge! I’ll keep this combo in mind for when I get up the nerve to make a more traditional opera cake myself.

  36. Ummmmmmm! this looks delicious!! What a temptation!!

  37. Wow! Amazing !

  38. that looks maaaad good.

  39. Contraband looks mighty good to me…I’ve got a hankering for something dark and delicious now too. Simply beautiful.

    Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

  40. Haha! Great post! and great cake! I was waiting for this recipe! :)

  41. Oh that is hysterical! I like your style, girl.

  42. I loved reading your story! hehe :-) And that opera cake looks absolutely deliciously mouthwatering!! Nice work on this, love your blog too!

  43. Hehe, nice story and nice opera cake! Yum.

  44. ROFL – Loved the story! Thanks for posting the recipe! I’m definitely trying this next time I get the urge for the opera.

  45. it’s like your conspiring with the daring bakers to drive me insane. I NEED CAKE.

  46. I think this has to go on my favorites! What flavors!

  47. Totally hilarious peabody! Hilarious! I can totally relate! I was a good kid too. And I hated to disappoint.. that was just the worst. Once I snuck into my big sisters room and ate a whole box of her thin mint girl schout cookies she was hiding in there. How I thought she wouldn’t notice, I don’t know. I was in big trouble for that.
    Opera cake- a dream! Thanks for sharing!

  48. I loved ding dongs but wouldn’t have gotten as far as you since my sister was a dirty tattle tale. Nice cake. I’m loving the toffee and that thin skin of chocolate just waiting to be peeled. But only to enjoy the interior, of course.

  49. That cake looks amazing…

  50. Everything you make looks great.

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