Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Chocolate Hazelnut "Opera" Cake for Passover

Earlier this month, we were fortunate to have famous cookbook author, Paula Shoyer for a Passover cooking demonstration.  She came out with a new cookbook, The New Passover Menu. This cookbook is unlike her other cookbooks, which focus solely on baking.  This book includes tasty soups, salads, side dishes and entrees in addition to her famous desserts.  While she was here, we made a delicious red pepper soup, a salad with mango and avocado, salmon stuffed gefilte fish, roasted eggplant, meringue fruit cups and, of course, the Opera cake.  You would never know that this delicious, rich, chocolate cake is kosher for Passover!

If you like this recipe, you can pick up Paula Shoyer's new cook book here:

16 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 cup almond milk or parve whipping cream
3 tablespoons strong brewed coffee or espresso
Hazelnut Cake:
6 large eggs, separated
3 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar                        
1 1/3 cups ground hazelnuts                                      
2/3 cup potato starch
4 teaspoons oil                                   
Coffee Syrup:
½ cup sugar                                                    
½ cup water
2 tablespoons strong coffee or espresso


Make the ganache first so that it firms up a bit while the cake is baking. Break the chocolate into small pieces and melt over a double boiler or in the microwave oven. Heat the almond milk or cream until hot, not boiling. Add to the chocolate mixture a little at a time and whisk well after each addition. It will get very thick but will smooth out as you add more almond milk.

Divide the ganache between two bowls, two-thirds into one bowl and one third into another. Cover the bowl with the one-third amount and place in the fridge. Into the second bowl with the two-thirds of the ganache, add the coffee and whisk well. Cover and place in the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the ganache thickens to a spreadable, not pourable consistency. If when you are ready to assemble the cake and the coffee-flavored ganache is not thick enough, place the bowl into the freeze for five to ten minutes and then whisk. If the ganache gets too hard, heat it in a microwave oven for a few seconds and whisk until smooth.

To make the cake, preheat oven to 375°F. Trim a piece of parchment paper to fit perfectly flat in the bottom of a 12 X 16-inch jelly roll pan.
Use an electric mixer to beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff. Turn the speed down to low and add the three tablespoons sugar and beat for another 30 seconds. Transfer the beaten whites to a separate bowl. Into the bowl you just used to beat the whites, place the confectioners’ sugar, ground hazelnuts, egg yolks, potato starch and oil and beat for one minute at medium speed. The mixture will be dry. Add half of the beaten egg whites and mix well at medium speed for 30 seconds to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Use a whisk to mix in the remaining whites in two parts. 
Pour into the prepared pan. Use a metal offset or silicone spatula to spread the batter as evenly as possible in the pan. Bake for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Set aside.
To make the coffee syrup, in a small saucepan bring the sugar, water and coffee to boil and boil for three minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit until ready to use. May be made up to five days in advance and stored covered at room temperature.
To assemble the cake, run a knife around the edges of the pan. Cover pan with a piece of parchment paper and a cooling rack and then flip the cake over onto the parchment and rack. Peel off the bottom parchment. Measure the midpoint on the long side and cut the cake in half to make two 6 X 8-inch rectangles. Place one half on a small cookie sheet lined with parchment, with the cake bottom facing up. Use a pastry brush to soak some of the coffee syrup all over the cake. 
Use a spatula to spread the chocolate ganache evenly on top of the cake all the way to the edges. Place the other cake half on top. Brush with syrup. Spread the coffee-flavored ganache on top, reserving about two tablespoons to decorate the cakes later, if desired. Heat a metal spatula under boiling water, dry and smooth the top. Place in the freezer until ready to serve. Place the extra ganache into a small bowl and place in the fridge until ready to decorate the slices.
To serve, trim off ¼ inch off all the sides of the cake to even them out. Eat the trimmings. Heat a knife with hot water to cut the cake into rectangles. Clean and reheat the knife between slices to get perfect slices. Warm the reserved ganache slightly to make it spreadable. Place into a pastry bag with any shape tip and pipe designs on top of each slice. You may add a coffee bean to the décor. If you do not have a pastry bag, heat the ganache until you can drizzle it and use a fork to drizzle over the slices to create some texture on top. Store in the fridge. 

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