Daring Bakers: Apricot, Passion Fruit and White Chocolate Opera


I cannot believe how fast time flies… it’s already time for another Daring Bakers challenge! This month’s challenge is hosted by the Daring Bakers founders, administrators and Zen Masters themselves Lisa from La Mia Cucina and Ivonne from Cream Puffs in Venice and co-hosted by Fran of Apples Peaches Pumpkin Pie and Shea of Whiskful.

This month’s challenge is opera cake, not the traditional coffee and dark chocolate cake, but a light-colored opera. Any flavors or ingredients are allowed as long as the resulting cake is light. Spring is in the air! This month’s challenge is also trying to draw attention to LiveSTRONG Day which was earlier this month.

I have been making a lot of opera cakes lately. I blogged about one of them a couple of months ago which was flavored with matcha, lemon and dark chocolate. My interpretation for this challenge includes the fruits that are in season, apricot and passion fruit. I made some changes to the recipe because I thought the egg yolk buttercream was a bit too rich for the overall cake. Instead I made a italian meringue buttercream and added some apricot puree to it. Then I added a small amount of passion fruit puree to the white chocolate mousse. I thought the sweetness of the white chocolate paired really nicely with the sweet but slightly tart apricots and the sour passion fruit. Overall it was a lovely cake and I thought it was very appropriate for the season, clean, refreshing and not overly sweet. We had a large cookout over Memorial Day weekend and I served it then along with other pies I made (more on that soon).


Joconde

6 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 tbsp. (30 grams) granulated sugar
2 cups (225 grams) ground blanched almonds
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
6 large eggs
½ cup (70 grams) all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. (1½ ounces; 45 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Preheat the oven to 425◦F. Line three quarter sheetpans with parchment paper and brush with melted butter.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using a handheld mixer), beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy. If you do not have another mixer bowl, gently scrape the meringue into another bowl and set aside.

If you only have one bowl, wash it after removing the egg whites or if you have a second bowl, use that one. Attach the paddle attachment to the stand mixer (or using a handheld mixer again) and beat the almonds, icing sugar and eggs on medium speed until light and voluminous, about 3 minutes. Add the flour and beat on low speed until the flour is just combined (be very careful not to overmix here!!!).

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the meringue into the almond mixture and then fold in the melted butter. Divide the batter between the pans and spread it evenly to cover the entire surface of each pan.

Bake the cake layers until they are lightly browned and just springy to the touch. This could take anywhere from 5 to 9 minutes depending on your oven. Put the pans on a heatproof counter and run a sharp knife along the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Cover each with a sheet of parchment or wax paper, turn the pans over, and unmold. Carefully peel away the parchment, then turn the parchment over and use it to cover the cakes. Let the cakes cool to room temperature.

Syrup

½ cup (125 grams) water
⅓ cup (65 grams) granulated sugar
1 to 2 tbsp. Kirsch

Stir water and sugar together in the saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove the syrup from heat and add the kirsch when it has cooled slightly.

Apricot Buttercream

100 grams egg whites
200 grams sugar
300 grams unsalted butter at room temperature
50 grams apricot puree (or to taste)

Combine the sugar, water in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves. Continue to cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 240◦F on a candy or instant-read thermometer. Once it reaches that temperature, remove the syrup from the heat.

While the syrup is heating, begin whisking the egg whites at high speed in the bowl of your mixer using the whisk attachment. Whisk until soft peaks form.

When the sugar syrup reaches the correct temperature and you remove it from the heat, reduce the mixer speed to low speed and begin slowly (very slowly) pouring the syrup down the side of the bowl being very careful not to splatter the syrup into the path of the whisk attachment. Some of the syrup will spin onto the sides of the bowl but don’t worry about this and don’t try to stir it into the mixture as it will harden!

Raise the speed to medium-high and continue beating until the egg whites are thick and the mixture is cool to the touch (about 5 minutes or so).

While the egg mixture is beating, place the softened butter in a bowl and mash it with a spatula until you have a soft creamy mass. With the mixer on medium speed, begin adding in two-tablespoon chunks. When all the butter has been incorporated, raise the mixer speed to high and beat until the buttercream is thick and shiny. At this point add apricot puree and beat for an additional minute or so.

White Chocolate and Passion Fruit Mousse

7 ounces white chocolate
1 cup plus 3 tbsp. heavy cream
1 tbsp. passion fruit puree

Melt the white chocolate and the 3 tbsp. of heavy cream in a small saucepan. Stir to ensure that it’s smooth and that the chocolate is melted. Add the tablespoon of passion fruit to the chocolate and stir. Set aside to cool completely.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream until soft peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate to form a mousse.

Assembling the Opéra Cake

Place one square of cake on the baking sheet and moisten it gently with the flavoured syrup. Spread about one-third of the buttercream over this layer. Refrigerate until it hardens. Then spread a third of the white chocolate mousse on top.

Top with joconde. Moisten with the flavoured syrup. Spread another third of the buttercream on the cake, refrigerate, spread another layer of white chocolate mousse on top and then top with the third square of joconde. Use the remaining syrup to wet the joconde. Spread the remaining buttercream on top of the final layer of joconde and then refrigerate and finish with the last layer of mousse. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

In a bowl, mix a little bit of gold dust powder with a few drops of vodka. With a brush, paint some of the gold on top of the opera. Let it dry for a couple of minutes and cover the entire cake with clear glaze.




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76 Responses to “Daring Bakers: Apricot, Passion Fruit and White Chocolate Opera”

  1. Peabody says:

    It’s lovely. And I appreciate that you used passion fruit without showing the “snotty” part of it. :)

  2. pea & pear says:

    Is it rude to say ‘I want , I want’? These look so delicious I really want them now!! You are so talented!! I am so jealous !!!!

  3. Kelly-Jane says:

    When I saw it was Opera cake I thought of you and the lovely cakes you have made! This one is gorgeous too :)

  4. Marianna says:

    woooow! that looks so amazing!! absolutely beautiful what you’ve done to this recipe! On the photo with the top view, what I love is the kind of “blush” applied on the buttercream- it’s GORGEOUS!

  5. chriesi says:

    out of this world! wow

  6. Anonymous says:

    Que MARAVILLA para la vista y el paladar.
    Me encanta, ahora mismo tengo una envidia sana de tus dotes para los dulces. Intentaré hacer una de estas para las mamas del colegio de mi hija.
    Anna. Tu fan Catalana

  7. beautiful (but i knew it would be)!! apricot buttercream *sigh*

  8. Vera says:

    The flavors you’ve chosen, the presentation, the photos are unbelievably wonderful! Such a masterpiece!

  9. Suzana says:

    Awesome cakes, Aran! And what a brilliant combination of flavours. Great choice!

  10. It looks divine as everything you make!

  11. C.L. says:

    amazing as usual. I want to take lessons from you!

  12. Y says:

    Delicioussss! :)

  13. Esti says:

    Qué ganas de melocotón y de chocolate blanco me han dado…
    Esto debería ser ilegal, ja, ja… incitación a la comida… ja, ja…

  14. Wonderful job on this! Great flavors! :)

  15. Eileen says:

    What a beautiful cake Aran!

    Eileen
    http://www.livingtastefully.com

  16. SOmehow I just knew your Opera cake was going to be gorgeous! you didn’t disappoint me. Lovely!

  17. nadia says:

    This looks great- the photographs are amazing-love the photo with the apricots(the pit) genius! It looks wonderfully delicious aran!

  18. Candace says:

    Oh wow… thats gorgeous! It looks yummy too!

  19. ostwestwind says:

    Your cake looks so elegant and divine!
    Ulrike from Küchenlatein

  20. So so lovely. Basically, your cake looks perfect! Great photos, too.

  21. Perfection! How absolutely gorgeous, Aran. My mouth is watering. That is exactly what I want to eat for dessert.

  22. Tartelette says:

    Great choice of flavors! I wish apricots had some taste over here, I miss the juicy ones back home. Love the brulee effect on top!

  23. Your photos are stunning Aran! The flavors of the cake sound amazing too! I really like the idea of the white chocolate passion fruit mousse!

  24. I get so inspired every time I visit here. Just amazing, as usual!

  25. nicisme says:

    Oh Aran, spectacular does not begin to describe your beautiful cake. I’d really love to try yours! (Notice I didn’t say make it myself, ha ha!)

  26. Cakespy says:

    Once again, not only a culinary achievement for ages, but an objet d’art as well. Lovely colors and flavors!

  27. Another exquisite creation! Your cake looks just beautiful! I love the white chocolate/passion fruit combo. I had to make mine round because I am such a terrible slicer, lol!

  28. linda says:

    I love the combination of flavours you used. At least yours wasn’t overly sweet.
    Love the decoration a lot too!

  29. Astrid says:

    Now I don’t know about your friends, but if I were served this kind of cake at a *cookout* I would faint with joy.

  30. Christine says:

    Elegant, beautiful and delish! I want to come to your next cookout!

  31. giz says:

    Really a gorgeous finished product and the combination of the light cake and the orange and vanilla bean is terrific.

  32. Anita says:

    Fabulous flavor combination! I really adore your photos too!

  33. enza says:

    great job but….what do you mean with clear glaze? jelly? I’ve used a strawberry jelly as glaze.

  34. Andrea says:

    Your cakes are so elegant. I love the flavors and the way you presented them.

  35. Katie B. says:

    I bow to your awesomeness – elegant Opera Cake!

  36. Gloria says:

    Precioso como siempre Aran, precioso y que rica receta, me encanta como presentas las cosas! xGloria

  37. Kim says:

    Just stunning, everything about your Opera Cake is wonderful. You are very talented.

  38. tartasacher says:

    Hola Aran:

    Maravillosas recetas y preciosas fotos. Esto es un auténtico lujo para la vista y el gusto. Un bellísimo blog. Besos

  39. marias23 says:

    What a lovely job you did. You guys are all making me wish I didn’t miss this challenge!

  40. Aimée says:

    Stunning combination of flavors, truly a cake to be proud of.

  41. PAT A BAKE says:

    Wow..i must say gr8 job. Well done. Your pics are awesome..you a pro photographer ?

  42. Looks beautiful, much nicer than mine. I love both apricot and passion fruit, I can imagine how good this must have tasted.

  43. Mrs.French says:

    I think these may be some of your best photos yet..stunning. I am sure it tastes just a beautiful as it looks.

  44. Tanya says:

    Beautiful work! Your opera cake looks delicious.

  45. Your cake is awesome, looks like a professional one ! I also thought of apricots first, then I changed for raspberries, but when I see your pictures, I have the feeling that I made the wrong choice !!

  46. Wonderful! Your cake looks very pretty!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  47. Miss C. says:

    Exquisite execution! What a stunning creation! Now can I please have a slice…? Please….?

  48. Superbe. Magnificent. I love the use of the seasonal ingredient (I did that too.)

  49. Bakerette says:

    looks gorgeous Aran. I always wondered what to use to create that brush stroke effect…I am sure it tastes amazing!

  50. Mobula says:

    Qué ya llego!!!! Que te voy a decir de tu opera cake que no te hayan dicho…. que me lo quiero comer yo!!!!!!!

    I-N-C-R-E-I-B-L-E!!!!!

    En un rato verás el mío!!1

    Besotes,

    Ana

  51. tartasacher says:

    Gracias Aran
    Por tu visita. Esto que tienes tú aquí sí que es perfecto y maravilloso, me quedaría horas mirando. Besos

  52. marye says:

    It is fantastic. great job

  53. Wow! Your glaze is perfect. I love the flavors.

  54. TERESA says:

    Precioso Aran, como todo lo que haces.
    Y esa combinacion de sabores tiene que ser buenisima.

    Feicidades¡¡

  55. Camille says:

    I’m inspired! What a beautiful and, I’m sure, delicious, cake.

  56. great idea, and great cake !!! whaow ! it’s so pefect !

  57. Meeta says:

    how elegant. Aran i love the flavors and tip my hat to you for the most gorgeous looking opera i have seen today!

  58. gfgastronaut says:

    Aran, your cake is exquisite… I love the apricot and passion fruit combination…. yum

  59. I am so glad you have a blog & you are a DB…ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS!

  60. Kevin says:

    That looks so good! I like the apricot and passion fruit flavour combo.

  61. Sheltie Girl says:

    You did a fabulous job on your cake. I love the look of your cake and your beautiful pictures.

    Natalie @ Gluten a Go Go

  62. Barbara says:

    Your cake looks fabulous, great photography.

  63. Shari says:

    Stunning. Professional. Gorgeous. As usual!
    Shari@Whisk: a food blog

  64. Deborah says:

    Absolutely gorgeous!

  65. I was so excited to see what you’d done with the challenge and you didn’t disappoint, the color of the apricot is so vibrant and I can only imagine how good it tasted. Wonderful!

  66. Claire says:

    Beautiful…the colors are fantastic.

  67. It looks delicious… as ever!

    Cheers from Catalonia.

    Joan Vicent

  68. Ann says:

    I knew your entry would be fabulous! And congrats on the new of the place!

  69. myriam says:

    that one looks DIVINE! i was so busy messing up the white chocolate, i didnt even THINK about putting fruit into my cake. good job, lovely pic!

  70. Christina says:

    I think that is the most delicious looking thing I’ve ever seen in my life. *drool*

  71. Dolores says:

    Another stunning presentation. I love the pairing of apricots and passion fruit (as Peabody so eloquently put it *without* the snot). Great job!

  72. Sunshinemom says:

    Your cake just made me catch my breath:) Beautiful! This was what I wanted my cake to be when I made it…it came out different. I am constantly learning from your blog and I am also sending you another award shortly. I hope it makes your day, just as it did mine.

  73. mycookinghut says:

    I really wish I could make this. The cake looks yummy and elegant!

  74. Anonymous says:

    Aran,

    2 questions:

    1. It seems the two opera cakes you provide the recipes for have two different joconde recipes. It also seems that the outcome portion wise would be different. Could you please explain?
    2. I was trying to follow the Apricot Butter Cream recipe – I am a bit confused as the instructions do not match the ingredient list.

    Thanks in advance for your help – I am eager to try this recipe over the weekend!

  75. the buttercream recipe instructions say passion fruit puree but it’s a mistake, supposed to be apricot puree.

    but not sure what two joconde recipes you are referring to. i only see one there. this was so long ago and i had to follow someone e;se’s recipe so i can’t remember well.

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