Wednesday, May 28, 2008


My first Daring Bakers challenge is complete. Our hosts Ivonne , Lis , Fran , Shea , chose the Opera Cake. Not the traditional Opera Cake with chocolate and coffee flavors. We were told to use any flavors other than the traditional and then go nuts. I chose peach, almond and vanilla. The almond flavor is in the cake, the vanilla is in the cake and buttercream and the peach is in the syrup and mousse. Then the silky white chocolate ganache on top. The aroma was intoxicating as I put the cake to my mouth and the taste was a blend of fruity, creamy, nutty perfection. After photographing my finished "Opera Cake" I served it for Mother’s Day.
I had so much fun checking to see what everyone else was doing for their flavors and presentations. Thank you to our hosts for this challenge. I have made traditional opera cakes but this was a whole new adventure, going out of the box and away from tradition.
Some of the recipes were adapted from Paris Sweets and Chocolate Passion.

6 Large Egg Whites (room temperature)
2 Tablespoons (30 grams) Granulated Sugar
2 Cups (225 grams) Almond Meal
2 Cups (225 grams) Powdered Sugar
6 Large Eggs (room temperature)
½ cup (70grams) Unbleached All Purpose Flour
½ Tablespoon Vanilla
3 Tablespoons (45 grams) Unsalted Butter (melted & cooled)
Line two ½ sheetpans with parchment paper. Butter the paper.
Sift together the almond meal and powdered sugar, set aside.
In a bowl of a 5 quart mixer using the paddle attachment beat the eggs to break them up. Add the sifted almond meal and powdered sugar mixture as well as the vanilla. Beat for 3 minutes.
Add the flour and mix on low speed just to incorporate.
In a clean bowl of a 5 quart mixer using the whisk attachment beat the egg whites to soft peak and while still beating slowly add the granulated sugar. Continue to whisk at high speed until the mixture is at full peak and glossy but not dry.
Fold this mixture into the egg, almond meal & powdered sugar mixture.
Remove ¼ cup of the mixture and stir into the melted butter. This will allow the melted butter to completely mix into the larger mixture. Fold everything together.
Weigh the mixture. Mine weighed 2 pounds 4 ½ ounces. Spread 1 pound 2 ¼ ounces into each prepared ½ sheetpan and bake in a 400 degree convection oven (425 degrees standard oven) for 7 minutes or until light brown.
Invert onto a clean sheet of parchment paper and peel off the parchment from the cakes. Turn over and use the parchment to cover the cakes. Let cool to room temperature then cover with plastic wrap to keep it air tight.

1 Cup Peach Juice (from IQF frozen peaches drained overnight)
2 Tablespoons Peach Schnapps
Sugar to taste if your peach juice is not sweet enough.
Bring the peach juice and sugar (if using) to a boil and reduce a little to a syrup consistency. Add the Peach Schnapps and refrigerate until ready to use.

2 Cups Sugar
½ Cup Water
2 Large Eggs
2 Large Egg Yolks
14 Ounces Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
1/3 Cup Peach Puree
In a 5 quart mixer beat the butter with a paddle attachment till light and free of lumps. Set aside.
Put the eggs and egg yolks in a bowl of a 5 quart mixer with the whisk attached. Whisk for a minute to break up the eggs.
Put the sugar and water in a sauce pan and cook without stirring until the mixture reaches 255 degrees. (Once the mixture reaches 240, start whipping the eggs at high speed.)
Lower the speed to medium high and pour the sugar mixture slowly down the side of the bowl. When it is all incorporated bring the speed back up to high and beat until cool (about 5 minutes).
Add the butter a little at a time whisking at high speed.
Whisk in the Peach Puree.

4 Ounces Peach Puree
1 Ounce Granulated Sugar
1 ½ Gelatin Sheets (bloomed)
6 Ounces Heavy Cream
Heat puree and sugar to about 86 degrees just to melt the sugar.
Add the gelatin and stir to dissolve.
Let the mixture cool to room temperature
Whip the cream and fold it into the puree mixture.

14 Ounces White Chocolate (I used Callebaut)
½ Cup Heavy Cream (I used 40%)
In the microwave bring the cream to a boil and pour over the chocolate. Stir with a whisk until the chocolate is completely melted. Use at 90 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.
Cut the cake so you have one piece 10" x 10" and one piece 10" x 5". Repeat with the other cake. You will have two 10" X 10" and two 10" x 5".
Put one of the 10" pieces on the parchment lined baking sheet. Moisten it with the peach syrup using a brush.
Spread a ¼" thick layer of peach buttercream over the cake. Put small diced pieces of fresh peach over the buttercream and push them down into the buttercream.
Put the two pieces of cake that measure 10" x 5" over this, fitting them together so you have a 10" x 10" square. Moisten with the peach syrup.
Put all of the peach mousse onto this cake layer and spread out evenly.
Put small diced pieces of fresh peach over the mousse and push them down into the mousse.
Put the last 10" square cake on top of the mousse layer. Moisten with the peach syrup.
Spread a ¼" thick layer of peach buttercream over the cake. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
Spread the white chocolate glaze over the chilled cake and return to the refrigerator.
Chill until set. Serves 20 (approximately)

Monday, May 26, 2008


I made this candy as part of my Memorial Day display. It was so delicious. When making it be sure to watch the sugar syrup close as it is reaching 330 degrees and swirl the pan to prevent uneven caramelizing. You don't want to burn it.

2 Cups Salted Pistachios (roughly chopped & toasted)
2 1/2 Cups Sugar
3/4 Cup + 2 Tablespoons Corn Syrup
9 Tablespoons Water
1 3/4 Cups Honey
1/3 Cup Egg Whites

Toast the pistachios at 325 degrees. Keep warm.

Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a saucepan and cook to 265 degrees (continue cooking as the eventual temperature needs to be 330 degrees). Put the honey on the heat and bring to a low boil.

While the honey is coming to a low boil start beating the egg whites to stiff peaks in the bowl of a 5 quart mixer with the whisk attachment. Slowly pour the honey down the sides of the beating egg whites. Continue to beat while the sugar syrup is cooking to 330 degrees. When it reaches 330 degrees slowly pour the mixture down the sides of the beating egg white, honey mixture. Beat for five minutes at medium speed then switch to a paddle attachment and beat for another 5 minutes. Add the warm nuts.

With cooking spray, spray a parchment lined sheetpan. Pour the mixture onto it. Spray your hands with the cooking spray then pat the mixture to the desired thickness. Let cool and cover with plastic overnight. Cut into 1" X 1 1/4" pieces. Temper chocolate and dip the pistachio nougat pieces into it one at a time. Let set up and store at room temperature in a covered container.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


This was my Mother's Day Hat Dessert. It is a banana and chocolate mousse with a creme brule center sitting on a shortbread cookie and decorated with buttercream.

Friday, May 09, 2008


This is a plated dessert I did recently for a ladies golf event. It consists of a small Vacherin filled with Chantilly Creme & topped with a fresh blackberry, Lemon Pound Cake topped with Raspberry Sorbet, and one of Pierre Herme's Hazelnut Chocolate Sables setting on a rosette of chocolate ganache.