Classic Opera - A French Cake

Classic Opera is rich, creamy and enticing layered French cake. Chocolate and coffee lovers, this will be your favorite with its flavorful elements for a heavenly sweet treat. Lightly folded and deliciously layered buttercream gives it the desired lightness to make this cake extremely beguiling.

Opera cake is close to tiramisu without the ladyfingers and mascarpone. This is a time consuming cake apart from the different steps; the cooling time adds to it as well. Nevertheless it's definitely worth the time and effort! Almond sponge cake/ joconde biscuits is coffee soaked and deliciously layered with coffee flavored light buttercream frosting and dark chocolate ganache. The gorgeous glossy glaze is finally drizzled over the delicate decadent delight to complete the layering.

Baked this cake for the 1st time for my son's quarantine birthday as he turned mid-teen. Surprisingly, it turned out to be the most flavorful cake ever! Decorated with the buttercream and made the chocolate number sticks with tempered chocolate and tooth pricks which came handy. But wait, the birthday chocolate disc was acquired from the local bakery. It sure was satisfying to bake and celebrate the birthday boy's big day.

Let's get to the stepwise recipe to bake and assemble this decadent. 


Category:Dessert / Cake
Cuisine: French
Level: Difficult
Yields: 6 pieces
Nutrition Facts
Servings 6.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 604
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 34 g53 %
Saturated Fat 15 g73 %
Monounsaturated Fat 2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 52 mg17 %
Sodium 289 mg12 %
Potassium 195 mg6 %
Total Carbohydrate 64 g21 %
Dietary Fiber 1 g5 %
Sugars 60 g
Protein 16 g31 %
Vitamin A17 %
Vitamin C2 %
Calcium17 %
Iron5 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Almond Sponge Cake/ Joconde biscuits:
  • Whole eggs - 5 (room temperature)
  • Confectioners sugar - 1 cup
  • Egg white - 5 (reserve yolks for buttercream)
  • Pure vanilla extract - 1/2 tsp
  • Melted butter (unsalted) - 2 tbsp
  • Salt - 1/4 tsp

Espresso Coffee Syrup:
  • Hot water -2/3 cup
  • Sugar -1/2 cup
  • Instant espresso coffee -3 tsp
  • Vanilla extract -1/2 tsp
Coffee Butter Cream:
  • Egg yolks - 5 (room temperature)
  • Instant espresso coffee - 3 tsp
  • Hot water - 3 tbsp
  • Vanilla extract - 1/4 tsp
  • Confectioners sugar - 3/4 cup
  • Butter - 1+1/4 cup (softened)
Chocolate Ganache:
  • Dark chocolate chips -1/2 cup
  • Butter - 1/2 (softened)
  • Heavy cream - 2/3 cup
Dark Chocolate Glaze:
  • Dark chocolate chips -1/2 cup
  • Oil (unflavored) - 1 tbsp
Almond sponge cake/ Joconde biscuits:
1. Preheat the oven to 400F (200C). Line your baking pan and brush with melted butter. I used 9X13 inch pan.  If you have 2 pans divide the batter to bake them equally. * Set aside the prepared pan.

2. Run the almond flour and powdered sugar through a sieve to avoid lumps. 
3. Using your stand or hand mixer in a clean dry bowl, first whisk in the egg whites and salt until foamy and glossy. Gradually add sugar and continue whisking until the sugar dissolves. Gently transfer the egg whites and set aside.

4. In the same bowl (skip to clean the bowl) change to a paddle attachment. In goes the whole eggs and beat for about 3 mins in medium speed until creamy and voluminous. Gradually incorporate the flour mixture and melted butter and continue on low speed. 
5. Now, fold in the whipped egg whites into the above almond mixture using a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 10-12 mins or until lightly browned and springly to touch.
6. Remove to cool completely on a wire rack. Run a knife around the sides to lift off the pan easily. Unmold gently and peel off the parchment paper when it's warm else peeling the paper off will be challenging. Cut the sponge cake sheet into 2 equal sheets.

Espresso/ Coffee Syrup:
Dissolve the water, sugar and espresso/ coffee powder in a saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Set aside to cool completely.
Coffee butter cream:
1. Mix the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl (stainless steel works best) until creamy and light yellow in color. 
2. In a saucepan boil the water, sugar and espresso/ coffee combined on medium heat. Using a candy thermometer wait until the temperature reaches 245F and pour the coffee syrup gradually in small batches over the creamy egg yolks while whisking continuously in low speed until all the mixture is incorporated well. Now, increase the speed to medium-high and continue whisking for about 5 mins until the eggs turn thick, satiny and cools to room temperature. 
3. Now add the softened butter (creamy texture and not melted or runny) to the above and increase the speed to high until thick and satin textured buttercream forms. Add the espresso/ coffee extract and beat well. Chill the buttercream covered for 30 mins or until it turns firm to spread.*
Chocolate Ganache:
Heat the heavy cream in a saucepan until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and in it goes the butter. Immediately, pour it over the chocolate waiting in a bowl to be melted. Let sit for a minute and stir gently until smooth and glossy ganache is ready.  Chill to thicken the ganache until it's spreadable. 
Cake layering/ assembly:
1. On a clean flat working space, cut your cake sheets to size and trim of the edges by working with one sheet at a time. To moisten both the sides of the 1st sheet to set as the base, drizzle the espresso/ coffee syrup using a pastry brush on one side. Place the moisten side down on the cake plate/ board and brush the top side as well.

2. Flipping the cake sheet once moistened can be tricky especially the 1st layer. Use dough scraper and cookie spatula to flip it easily without breaking (like the picture below).  

3. Using a piping bag and a flat tip or using an offset cake spatula, spread 3/4 of the coffee buttercream evenly over the cake. Now place the cake in the freezer for 5-10 mins for the buttercream to set. 
4. Spread the ganache over this layer evenly. 

5. Moisten the 2nd cake sheet on one side and place it on the cake to brush the top side with coffee extract. Repeat both buttercream (chill) and spread the chocolate ganache as mentioned above. Once all the layers are done, refrigerate for about 2 to 4 hours until cold. If in a rush, pop the cake in the freezer for 20 mins only.
Dark Chocolate Glaze:
1. To glaze the cake, temper your chocolate using double broiler method or in the microwave like I did. In a microwave safe container, add in your chocolate chips and heat for 20 secs about 2-3 sittings, stirring between intervals until 3/4 on the chocolate chips are melted. Now add the oil and mix until it's in a pourable consistency (not too runny nor thick). Pour the glaze over the cake and scrape off the excess that drips off. Slide the cake back to the refrigerator to set well.
2. I went again with the leftover buttercream and cleaned up the sides and pipped a small decoration on the cake to set as a birthday cake.  You can skip this step and cut the cake into rectangular slices. For a smooth and clean cut, dip your knife in hot water and wipe clean and dry with a kitchen towel to cut the sides of the cake and then into slices for the layers to be revealed. Serve chilled cake slices with edible gold leaf, chocolate disc or a simple decoration with buttercream frosting are some to mention.


  • The almond sponge cake can be baked in two sheets to keep ti easy. By doing so your baking time reduces to 8-10 mins approximately. But you will have to gauge the timings according to your oven settings. 
  • You can bake the sponge cake up to 1 day ahead for convenience. Store the wrapped cake in room temperature.
  • The buttercream can be stored in an airtight container upto 4 days in the refrigerator. 


    1. Wow so yummy and tempting. Feel like trying it right away. Beautiful pictures. Will definitely try. SuperπŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘.

      1. Thank you Priya! Do follow the stepwise pictures for an easy and happy baking!

    2. Replies
      1. Thank you! please keep me posted, i would like to enjoy your version virtually :)

    3. Replies
      1. It does taste yummy too! Thank You for stopping by :)

    4. Yummy and delicious. Well descriptive Step wise pictures. Tempting to try it soon

      1. You have a keen observation Deepa! Do try and let me know how it turns out. Thank you :)

    5. Oh my! Looks fantastic, I am sure it tasted as well. I think high time to participate in a contest I guess, this would win a prize for sure.

      1. Kiru, ha ha ha I haven't mastered any yet :) This is just a passion being a foodie to try differently.


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