Diana's Desserts - www.dianasdesserts.com

Opera Torte

For the Almond Hazelnut Sponge Cake:
2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 ounces ground almonds or hazelnuts, toasted
3 eggs
1 tablespoon butter, melted and cooled
3 egg whites
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

For the Chocolate Ganache:
1/2 cup whipping cream
7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup granulated sugar

For the Coffee Syrup:
2 tablespoons instant coffee crystals
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup water

For the Buttercream:
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg white
1/3 cup unsalted butter (must be unsalted)
A bit of the (above) coffee syrup

For the Almond Hazelnut Sponge Cake:

In a large bowl mix together the powdered sugar, flour, and almonds or hazelnuts. Add the eggs and beat until pale. Fold in the butter. In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until stiff. Add the sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold one-third of the whites into the flour mixture. Then, carefully fold the remaining whites into the batter. Line an 11 x 7 x 1 1/2-inche jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Grease the paper. Pour the batter into the pan, spread evenly. Bake at 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) for 6-7 minutes or until golden. Turn the cake out onto a wire rack. Remove the paper. Cool.

For the Chocolate Ganache:

In a small saucepan bring the cream to a boil. Remove from theheat and add the chocolate and sugar. Let sit for 2-3 minutes. Mix the mixture together until the chocolate is completely melted. Cool at room temperature.

For the Coffee Syrup:

In a small saucepan combine all ingredients and boil for about 5 minutes. Cool.

For the Buttercream:

In a small saucepan combine about 1 tablespoon of water and the sugar. Bring to softball temperature (240 degrees F/115 degrees C). In a large stand-mixer mixing bowl, whisk the egg white just until it begins to froth. As the mixer is beating on high, slowly drizzle the sugar syrup into the bowl. Keep beating until the whites are very stiff, and the mixture has cooled quite a bit. Turn the mixer to medium speed and add the chunks of butter one at a time. Wait till the mixture comes together again, and then add some of the coffee syrup. Just enough so that the buttercream tastes a bit coffee-ish.

To Assemble
Cut the cake crosswise into three pieces. Brush the coffee syrup onto one of the pieces, then spread with some of the buttercream. Cover with a second piece of cake. Brush with the coffee syrup and spread with half the ganache. Cover with the last piece of cake, brush with syrup and top with more buttercream. Smooth the top and refrigerate until the buttercream is firmly set.

Warm the remaining ganache until it is a nice spreading consistency. Spread over the top of the cake. Refrigerate again. Cut into pieces, and enjoy!

Date: January 27, 2004