Daring Bakers – Not so Opéra Cake petit fours

Opéra cake has been on my to-do list for a while so I was very happy to see it as our Daring Baker’s challenge this month. Unfortunately we were not allowed to make the traditional dark chocolate and coffee one. Instead it had to be a more spring-like version, something light in colour.

We were allowed to play around with flavours and colours but weren’t allowed to use dark colours.

The master recipe of the cake consists of 3 layers of joconde with buttercream between them. On top of the upper layer of joconde you could use buttercream or white chocolate mousse. The top layer was a white chocolate glaze.

I happened to know that Courtney of Coco Cooks was planning on using pandan extract in her Opéra cake. It seemed like a fun idea to try that too with the pandan extract I bought last month. I had never used it before and I was sure I wasn’t going to like the colour of the original glaze so I decided to use it in that. To stay with Asian flavours I used coconut instead of almonds for the joconde and used lemon grass to flavour the syrup. The buttercream in the master recipe wasn’t salmonella proof and we were allowed to use a different recipe. Instead I used a meringue buttercream. I kept the buttercream simple and hoped by incorporating lemon in it that I would be able to compensate for the rest of the very sweet tastes.

I served the cake at my son’s birthday party and the family loved the look and the taste.

I wasn’t sure how the coconut would do in the joconde. And I’m still not sure because I sort of messed up the recipe 😉 The idea was to mix an amount flour into a mixture of sugar, coconut and eggs. The step afterwards was incorporating whipped egg whites. Well…I was half way incorporating the whipped egg whites when I discovered the little bowl with flour….oops! Just added it anyway. It took me long incorporate the egg whites. By the time I finally incorporated all of the egg white I excorporated all the air 😀 The joconde was more like a sweet omelet with coconut 😉 I don’t know how the real joconde should be so I will have to make the cake again to compare. Next time I’ll try the traditional Opéra cake though.

I didn’t want to make a big cake so I halved the recipe.

I have one pan that you could call a jelly roll pan but that wasn’t the right size. The only one that came close was the square baking tray that came with the oven. It didn’t have the right shape but at least it had the right amount of surface area. Because it was a bit warped one corner of the baking tray produced a piece less usable joconde. I was left with 3 squares, just like I needed.

When I saw the ratio of white chocolate to cream I started worrying about getting a smooth glaze. It’s the ratio I would use to make truffles. As I expected, the glaze was difficult to spread and I wasn’t able to get it to be smooth. It looked really ugly (forgot to take a picture of the monster 😉 No way could I present a big cake, I had to cut the cake and decorate it with buttercream before it looked presentable. Pity that the shredded coconut messed up the layers of buttercream a bit when I cut them. I used the left-over glaze and rolled it into truffles (told you so…) and rolled them in caster sugar to coat.

All in all it wasn’t a bad cake but I thought it was too heavy and sweet…even for me 😉 The pandan flavour was subtle and combined well with the white chocolate (what doesn’t 😉 The coconut taste was very nice. The lemon grass syrup wasn’t very obvious unfortunately, that could have been better. I was glad I used lemon in the buttercream because without that it would have been even heavier.

Fun cake to make and was less complicated than I imagined. Worth making again but I’d definitely go with the traditional Opéra cake and see if the bitterness of the chocolate and coffee compensates for the heavyness of the cake.

Thanks for this challenge Ivonne (Cream Puffs in Venice), Lis (La Mia Cucina), Fran (Apples Peaches Pumpkin Pie), and Shea (Whiskful)!

Things I did differently:


– I used 1 cup of shredded coconut instead of 1 cup of ground almonds


– I used 2 stalks of chopped lemon grass and let them simmer in the syrup for 10 minutes. Kept it in the syrup until I used it 4 days later.


– I used the original recipe for the Perfect Party Cake

– added the inside of half a vanilla bean (to half the recipe)

White chocolate glaze

– I added less than â…› of a teaspoon of pandan extract to flavour and colour

Check out all the other Daring Bakers here.

Check out how the hosts did: Ivonne (Cream Puffs in Venice), Lis (La Mia Cucina), Fran (Apples Peaches Pumpkin Pie), and Shea (Whiskful).

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49 Responses to Daring Bakers – Not so Opéra Cake petit fours

  1. ovenhaven says:

    What a great tropical take on the opera cake. I love the colour! 🙂

  2. Aran says:

    just adorable petits fours and adorable baby!! aww….

  3. They look so so so cute!

  4. courtney(aka glamah16) says:


    I love it. You really gave he cake a style. Hmmm. I wonder what flavors we will choose next?:-)!

  5. You and your mini food always win my heart, Linda!

  6. Rosa says:

    I love those miniature cakes! Wonderful decoration and great choice of flavors!



  7. Linda you have simply knocked my socks off.

    Beautiful Opera, great harmony!

  8. megan says:

    I love the little cakes. They look perfect. Great job!

  9. Astrid says:

    Amazing how creative and ressourceful you were with this difficult challenge. An opera cake, now that’s something I would like to try… Can’t wait to see how you succeed with a more traditional recipe.

  10. lauren says:

    your opera cakes are so cute and fun!

  11. Precious! My cake was so sweet, little petit fours bite would really make it more tolerable.

  12. Hannah says:

    How cute and colorful! A smaller version of petit fours is a great idea too, since it was such a rich cake.

  13. Tartelette says:

    Absolutely beautiful! I love the use of coconut, pandan and lemongrass all together!

  14. Dianne says:

    Beautiful! I love the colors!

  15. Kim says:

    Fabulous, love your shapes, decorations, flavoring and colors. What a treat, well done.

  16. Katie B. says:

    Wicked clever – what an awesome idea!

  17. Gabi says:

    They’re adorable and I love the little sugar coated glazed bon bons on top!

    I’m going to have to try those flavours as well!

    Great job 🙂

  18. jasmine says:

    Beautiful colour and decoration–really impressed that you made them into petitfours.


  19. Lori says:

    Despite your problems witht he jaconde, It looks amazing. What a talented artist you are!

  20. maria~ says:

    Wow! Such deliciously Asian flavor combination and I simply adore your petit fours idea. The best things come in small packages 🙂

    You guys are all making me wish I didn’t miss this challenge!

  21. jennifer says:

    that green is so brilliant! amazing color. great job!

  22. Ginny says:

    Looks so cute and delicious! I like the flavor combination idea!

  23. Jen says:

    fantastic! love the color, one of my faves 🙂

  24. dhanggit says:

    this is so beautiful linda!! you are really gifted!! love love your opera cakes

  25. mari says:

    I love your Opéra cake, it looks so festive! It took me forever to fold in all the egg whites as well and I nearly forgot the flour, too. Practice makes perfect, I guess?!

  26. Candace says:

    Lovely cake! The color is fantastic!

  27. Sheltie Girl says:

    You did a wonderful job on your cake. Your pictures are gorgeous. Simply delicious! Yum!

    Natalie @ Gluten a Go Go

  28. Emilia says:

    I like those pictures, especially the top one is beautiful and that’s a great angle. I don’t think it’s all that easy to shoot cake, but your picture is very pretty.

  29. Christine says:

    I really have to get some pandan extract and give it a try! Your pics are beautiful and so is your cake!

  30. Miss Ifi says:

    You also had visions of chocolate and coffee eh?? *giggles* your cake turned out extremely well and beautiful!!!!

    CONGRATULATIONS!!! yours deserves an opera for sure!

  31. judy serrao says:

    Amazing! And pictures too good to be true. Gr8 job…well done. Do visit my blog too.

  32. Natashya says:

    Beautiful little squares of opera cake. It is amazing how symetrical they are, you must have a steady hand. I will have to look up Padan (sp?) I have never heard of it. Great work.

  33. John says:

    I love it!!! I know nothing about this Pandan everyone seems to be workin with, but your cake(s) look absolutely luscious!!! It looks so fresh and fun!!


  34. Harmony says:

    All I can say is just gorgeous! Great job.

  35. Francijn says:

    I like your Asian choice of tastes! Well done, it looks beautiful.

  36. rachel says:

    Pretty pretty..excellent job..I would never have thought of using pandan….gorgeous colour…

  37. Ally says:

    Your cakes are absolutely beautiful! I love the decoration, and the flavors you used. I also used the buttercream from the party cake, it’s soooo good!

  38. moowiesqrd says:

    Incredible! I love the flavors you used. I only know pandan leaves as an ingredient for the rice in Hainan chicken and rice, so it’s amazing to see it used in a sweet application.

    The white chocolate glaze was annoying for me, too. Way too thick and need more cream for a smooth finish.

  39. ParisianCigs says:

    They are so adorable!!!! I love them!

  40. Samira says:

    Your cake is very spring-like with the colors and decorations. Also, your cake looks super super moist. Very cute!

  41. linda says:

    Thanks everyone 🙂

  42. Dolores says:

    Wow. Wow. *Wow!* They’re bright. They’re beautiful. They’re uniform. They’re among the most bakery-window worthy I’ve seen in this challenge. Excellent job!

  43. Aparna says:

    I also love the look of your petit fours. And they must have tasted just great.

  44. Miri says:

    Beautiful variation on the Opera cake. The green color makes it look so fresh and inviting!

  45. I am unfamiliar with Pandan extract – thanks for teaching me something new! – One thing I do know, your cake is absolutely stunning. I love the colours and the presentation, really nicely done 🙂

  46. Y says:

    I love your combination of flavours, and how you decorated the tops of each cake. That extract must be really strong if you got so much colour out of such a little amount when added to the glaze.

  47. Rebecca says:

    Awwww, look at those minis. And tropical, too. YUM.

  48. Vibi says:

    This is amazing – those little Operas are so representative of your style – always playful, dainty and whimsical.

    Such a bright green, not often attempted …but in this case, wonderfully succeeded and I’m sure, as nice flavorwise!

    Great job!

  49. Deborqah says:

    Your cake is so gorgeous! I love the wonderful green color.

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