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. Haha! Very subtle. I got the dissappointed talks too…like the time I ate all of the Flinstone vitamins.

    The opera cake looks delicious…

  2. Love your dark, decadent and beautiful side!

  3. Do you know that I’ve never had a ding dong … but I most definitely have a dark side. This is the kind of contraband that I would happily take the fall for.

  4. hi,

    i tried opera cake, but butter cream curdled, i followed your recipe, pls guide me.

    is egg yolk or egg whites to be used for buttercream?

  5. Jane Baker says:

    Can the 3 tablespoons of regular flour be replaced with gluten free all purpose flour?

  6. Honestly don’t know. I know most gluten free people don’t have problems subbing but not sure. Sorry.

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