Week 178: Coffee and matcha opera

My parents are here for their one-week-a-year visit and I have been racking my brains to make them something. After much soul searching, I decided to make something that combines my dad’s favourite flavours – coffee, matcha and chocolate.

This is an opera recipe I have been wanting to try for the longest time. I am not a big fan of matcha, but coffee and chocolate, I can never have enough of. So this one consist of 4 matcha joconde layers, soaked with coffee syrup, 2 layers of coffee Italian meringue buttercream and 1 generous layer of chocolate ganache.

The coffee buttercream was a bit too thick and I was a little cautious about soaking the matcha joconde as I didn’t want the nice green color to be taken over by the brown syrup. But still, it is something I could enjoy. Got to work on getting the layers more even though…

For the matcha joconde

90g icing sugar

60g ground almonds

35g plain flour

8g matcha powder

160g eggs

25g beurre noisette

110g eggs white

75g sugar

1) In a bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together icing sugar, ground almonds, flour, matcha powder and eggs until mixture is light and fluffy.

2) Add the beurre noisette and whisk until it is incorporated.

3) Preheat oven to 220C fan.

4) In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with sugar until just before stiff peaks formed.

5) Gently fold the meringue into the egg mixture in 3 parts, trying not to knock out too much air from the batter.

6) Pour batter into 2 x 9″ x 13″ baking trays lined with parchment paper and level it.

7) Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Leave to cool.

For the coffee syrup

45g granulated sugar

45g water

1 1/2 tsp coffee extract

1) Bring the sugar and water to a boil until sugar has melted completely.

2) Remove from heat and stir in the coffee extract.

For the Italian meringue

38g egg whites

60g + 5g granulated sugar

18g water (cooked to 121C)

1) In a saucepan, bring 60g of sugar and water to a boil and allow it to cook to 121C.

2) While sugar is cooking, put the egg whites and remaining 5g sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.

3) Start whisking the egg whites on high speed when the sugar has reached 118C. By the time sugar has reached 121C, the meringue should be glossy.

4) Reduce the whisking speed and carefully pour the hot sugar into the meringue and increase the whisking speed. Continue whisking for about 5 to 10 minutes until meringue is at room temperature.

For the Italian meringue coffee buttercream

35g egg yolks

20g granulated sugar

1 tsp coffee extract

45g whole milk

88g Italian meringue

225g unsalted butter, at room temperature

1) Whisk together egg yolks, sugar and coffee extract.

2) In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a light boil.

3) Pour a bit of the hot milk into the egg yolks to temper it and pour the mixture back into the milk.

4) Cook the pastry cream on low heat while stirring continuously until it has reached 85C.

5) Pour the pastry cream into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk on high speed until cooled to room temperature.

6) Whisk in the Italian meringue and the butter and continue to whisk on high speed until buttercream is light and fluffy.

For the chocolate ganache

100g dark chocolate couverture

100g heavy cream

10g unsalted butter, at room temperature

1) In a saucepan, heat chocolate and heavy cream together on low heat, stirring continuously.

2) Once chocolate has melted completely, remove saucepan from heat and continue to stir until ganache is smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature.

3) Stir in butter until ganache is smooth and glossy.

For the crème chantilly

1 tsp gelatine powder + 1 tbsp water

30g icing sugar

30g mascarpone

240g heavy cream, very cold

1) Bloom gelatine in water. Once bloomed, heat the gelatine on a water bath, stirring to ensure all the gelatine granules have melted.

2) Whisk icing sugar, mascarpone and heavy cream together on high speed until soft peaks form.

3) Reduce the speed of the mixer and carefully pour in the melted gelatine, then increase speed of the mixer and continue whisking until stiff peaks form.

4) This recipe makes more than required and can be reduced by 1/3.

To assemble

1) Cut the jocondes into half perpendicular to the long sides so you end up with 4 same size rectangular biscuits.

2) Place the first joconde layer on a cake board and soak with 1/3 of the coffee syrup.

3) Spread half the coffee buttercream evenly on top of the soaked joconde.

4) Place the second joconde layer on top of the coffee buttercream, pressing down lightly to level it.

5) Soak the second joconde layer with 1/3 of the coffee syrup.

6) Spread the chocolate ganache evenly on top of the soaked joconde.

7) Place the third joconde layer on top of the chocolate ganache, pressing down lightly to level it.

8) Soak the third joconde layer with the remaining coffee syrup.

9) Spread the remaining coffee buttercream evenly on top of the soaked joconde.

10) Place the final joconde layer on top of the coffee buttercream, pressing down lightly to level it.

11) Spread 1/3 of the crème chantilly evenly on top of the final joconde and allow to set in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

12) Cut the opera cake into desired strips and decorate by piping the remaining crème chantilly using a petal tip.

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