Tag Archives: tiramasu
After many Academy Award themed posts, we are finally at the last entry for 2012. Dallas wanted to know when the guy for the party is coming over so we could all eat cake. We had to explain that Oscar isn’t really a man, just an award! I promised special recipes for today and I have all the dirty dishes in the kitchen to prove I am about to deliver.
I have a stack of cookbooks I need to pass on, I have never used them in the past six years, so out they go. As I was sorting, I came across a beautiful book I had forgotten all about. Gourmet magazine now has an online magazine, but the print version has gone the way of the typewriter. Luckily, I bought the 20th anniversary “best of” edition, A Year of Celebrations.
There are gorgeous photos and loads of complicated recipes in this book. I come from the (Disney) Ratatouille school of thought, I think anyone can cook. So, I decided to take a stab at a cake straight out of the chapter called, “Reinventing Gigi, A Cinematic Dinner.” That just screams Oscar night, doesn’t it? There is no way I could have made this cake without the help of my husband. He cleared the boys out for a couple hours, which was totally necessary.
This cake took complete focus, lots of dishes and no shortcuts. It took well over two hours, but was totally worth it. This is a special day! I joked with Mr. Movie Fuel that today should be our anniversary, as it was movies that really brought the two of us together.
Most of Gourmet’s recipes can be found at epicurious.com, including today’s dessert. Opera cake is often called a French Tiramasu. It’s a spongy almond cake, which soaks up espresso in between layers of coffee buttercream and chocolate ganache. This was a lot like making a génoise cake, which is an Italian sponge cake I learned to make at a class with my fun, cake-baking cousin, Shayna.
The keys to making this type of cake, concentration and patience. That’s it!
- 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 (3½ oz) or ⅔ 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
- ⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, foam discarded, and butter cooled
- For coffee syrup
- 1 teaspoon instant-espresso powder
- ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon water
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup Cognac or other brandy
- For coffee buttercream
- 2 teaspoons instant-espresso powder
- ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon water
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes and softened
- For chocolate glaze
- ¾ stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 7 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened; preferably 70 to 71% cacao), coarsely chopped
- 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 ¼ 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 syrup:
- Stir together espresso powder and 1 tablespoon water until powder is dissolved. Bring sugar and remaining ½ cup water to a boil in a 1- to 2-quart heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat and simmer syrup, without stirring, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in Cognac and coffee mixture.
- Make coffee buttercream:
- Stir together espresso powder and 1 tablespoon water until powder is dissolved. Bring sugar and remaining ¼ 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 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 coffee syrup. Spread half of buttercream evenly over top with cleaned offset spatula, spreading to edges.
- 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. Spread half of glaze evenly over top, spreading just to edges.
- 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. Scrape remaining tablespoon glaze into sealable plastic bag and twist bag so glaze is in 1 corner. Snip a tiny hole in corner and decorate cake (leave a ½-inch border around edges). Chill cake until glaze is set, about 30 minutes, then trim edges slightly with a sharp serrated knife.
- Cooks’ notes:
- If you can’t find almond flour, you can pulse whole almonds with the confectioners sugar in a food processor until powdery (be careful not to grind to a paste). To take the temperature of a shallow amount of syrup, put bulb in saucepan and turn thermometer facedown, resting other end against rim of saucepan. Check temperature frequently. Opéra cake can be made 2 days ahead. Cover sides with strips of plastic wrap and top of cake loosely with plastic wrap (once glaze is set) and chill cake. Remove plastic wrap from top immediately after removing cake from refrigerator and bring cake to room temperature, 30 minutes to 1 hour.
**If you want to know what this cake is really supposed to look like, just Google it. It’s really meant to be made by culinary students, professional bakers and French chicks.**
Black Cherry Vanilla Champagne
I posted a homemade soda recipe in the ongoing (and coming back this Tuesday), Roadtrip Series. Making a champagne cocktail without buying three different kinds of spirits is the same concept.
I boiled and then reduced black cherry juice with a teaspoon of vanilla extract. If I would have had a vanilla bean on hand, I would have used one instead. As you may notice in the photo, I don’t even have champagne glasses at home, so I tend to just make do! I remember getting champagne flutes for our wedding, they must be up in my parent’s attic. (That was a reminder for me, sorry).
Before pouring the reduced juice, I loaded my glass with a small handful of frozen cranberries. I used a basic extra dry champagne, which is my preference, but you could use any kind you like.
I hope you enjoyed our fun Academy Award buildup and enjoy the show!