And July is also coming to an end. Is it just me or is time really on some mission to travel at the speed of a bullet train? I’m sitting by the window, looking at this sparrow perched on a power line, my brain practically drawing a blank and then out of nowhere I wake up and start working on my excel sheet for next month, of things to do, what to bake and ingredients to buy.
I realize I did the same thing last month and the months before, not by the window, watching a sparrow though. I think deep down, I’m actually not blanking out but all I’m thinking about is how time always gets the better of me. There are always things to do but somehow there never seems to be enough time to do them. Among all the things I have taught myself through this blog, one very valuable thing I’ve learnt is to plan, but it’s not enough, I need to get even better at planning.
Anyway, looking at my excel sheet, I realized I haven’t really done my share of chocolate indulgence this month. I don’t know how that happened but it did. So I replaced a recipe with this gorgeous mini opéra cakes that I’ve been wanting bake for close to 3 months now.
It’s the kind of dessert that will intimidate you in the beginning because of its many components but when you break it down and work it out, it’s not at all hard. And as you might have already noticed, it is not the conventional opéra cake; I saw these mini versions in a French magazine and I realized how portioning a dessert to a smaller size makes a huge difference.
For the biscuit joconde
- 125 g (3/4 cup) ground almonds
- 125 g (1 cup + 1 tbsp) icing sugar
- 3 eggs
- 3 egg whites
- 1 heaped tbsp caster sugar
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 2 tbsp butter, melted
- 3 tbsp espresso concoction
For coffee syrup
- 75 ml water
- 75 g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
- 125 ml espresso concoction
For chocolate ganache
- 150 ml cream
- 135 g chocolate, chopped
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
For coffee buttercream
- 120 g (1/2 cup + 1 tbsp) caster sugar
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ egg
- 160 g (2/3 cup + 1 tbsp) unsalted butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 5 tbsp espresso concoction
Note: if you don’t have access to espresso, you can make a concoction of instant coffee powder
Makes 4 cakes
- Preheat the oven to 180 C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Blitz ground almonds, flour and icing sugar together in a food processor. Then add the whole eggs and pulse for 10-15 seconds.
- In a clean bowl, whip the egg whites until frothy for 30 seconds. Add the caster sugar and whip them to stiff peaks.
- Fold the egg whites into the almond batter in two halves. Fold just until combined. Incorporate the melted butter.
- Pour the batter on the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Once baked, flip the sponge on a wire rack (sponge side down) and peel off the parchment paper. Let it cool.
- For the coffee syrup, bring water and sugar to the boil. After the sugar dissolves, put off the heat and add the instant coffee powder. Stir well until combined.
- For the ganache, bring cream to boil. Pour hot cream over chopped chocolate. Stir to combine and add butter. Stir until thoroughly combined. Cover the ganache with cling film and set aside at room temperature.
- Once the sponge has cooled, brush all of the coffee syrup into the sponge. The sponge will take in all the syrup.
- For the buttercream, bring sugar and water to the boil and simmer till a candy thermometer reads 118 C.
- Meanwhile, whip egg yolk and egg until pale and frothy. Gently trickle down the sugar syrup on the side while continuing to beat the eggs. Beat for 6 minutes until the bowl becomes cold from outside. Now, add the soft butter, bit by bit while beating the mixture. Beat until the mixture becomes fluffy and creamy.
- Add the butter cream to a piping bag fitted with ½ inch plain tip. Set aside.
- You will need four 5” ring moulds. Cut 8 circles with the ring moulds. Place 1 circle at the base of each ring mould (see pic). Pipe butter cream over the sponge circle. Take a spoonful of ganache and gently spread it over the butter cream. Place another disc of sponge over it. Pipe buttercream on top. Repeat for all moulds. Freeze the cakes for 3o minutes.
- Before serving put a dollop of ganache on top of each cake.