Opera Cake

A few weeks ago, I was browsing through the bakery department of my grocery store, when I came across a gorgeous cake called “opera cake”. Intrigued, I picked it up to read the description and determined it was very similar to a tiramisu. Since my hubby is OBSESSED with tiramisu, I decided I needed to make it.

Typically, one would grab the cake from the store and call it good, but I am a Cookin’ Chick, right?? Since I was in the baking mood, I quickly turned to google and gathered the ingredients for the cake. That afternoon, I whipped it up and the end result was FABULOUS!

It was very similar to tiramisu, only with added chocolate (score)!! If you love coffee, cake, and especially tiramisu….this cake is for you!!


Opera Cake


  • Almond Sponge Cake (found in bakery) *you can also use ladyfingers

Coffee Syrup

  • 1 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup water plus 1 tbsp.
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brandy (cognac)

Coffee Buttercream

  • 2 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp. water
  • 6 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 stick unsalted butter

Chocolate Glaze

  • 3/4 stick unsalted butter
  • 7 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped



Make coffee syrup: Stir together the instant espresso powder and 1 tbsp. water until powder is dissolved. Set aside. Bring sugar and remaining 1/2 cup water to a boil stirring until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat and simmer syrup, without stirring for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the brandy and coffee mixture.

Make coffee buttercream: Stir the instant espresso powder and 1 tbsp. water together until powder is dissolved. Set aside. Bring sugar and remaining 1/4 cup water to a boil, 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. While the syrup boils, beat yolks in a bowl using electric mixers for 1 minute. Add hot syrup to eggs in a slow stream, also adding the coffee mixture. Beat for about 5 minutes. Add in the butter and mix until thickened and smooth.

Make chocolate glaze: Melt butter and all but 2 tbsp. chopped chocolate in a double boiler, 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.

To assemble:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 1/2-inch border around edges). Chill cake until glaze is set, about 30 minutes, then trim edges slightly with a sharp serrated knife.

Recipe adapted from: Epicurious



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