One of my favorite things I learned to make in pastry class was the Opera cake. This classic French dessert was created by Louis Clichy, who called it – quite naturally – the Clichy. However, it was popularized by the Parisian pâtisserie Dalloyau as the Opera cake and is now mostly known by that name. It is a wonderfully rich and dreamy combination of delicate almond biscuit or joconde, chocolate ganache, coffee buttercream, and chocolate glaze. It’s like a very refined and decadent layer cake.
I used a version of the recipe which called for four layers of the joconde, three layers of buttercream, a layer of ganache, and the glaze. While the combination of flavors and textures was just as luscious as I remember,I think I prefer the slimmed-down seven layer version I’ve made before. The balance of buttercream and chocolate seemed to work better. (I’m not the biggest fan of buttercream, but its espresso-laced incarnation in the opera helps make it the out of the world experience it is for me).
There is a very good recipe for Opera cake in Doris Greenspan’s Paris Sweets – she adapted Dalloyau’s own version of it! I actually had the fortune of trying Dalloyau’s version in Paris last fall. I have to say that even though I was a tourist buying just a 5 euro slice of cake, I was treated with the same friendly, smiling service that all the other customers picking up their orders of foie gras and truffles!