Blackberry Opera Torte (Diva Cake)

Blackberry Opera Torte (Diva Cake) | ZoeBakes photos by Zoë François

I set out to bake a traditional Opera Torte, but I ended up getting distracted and took off in an entirely different flavor direction. In the end I created this Blackberry Opera Torte (which I have named the Diva Cake) and I’m not sure I’ll ever go back. This cake has become one of my signature moves on Instagram (cake, meringue, blow torch- need I say more). It has way more layers than a traditional opera torte, which is not a bad thing at all. Instead of coffee-soaked Joconde (almond sponge cake) and coffee buttercream, this one uses blackberry preserves to flavor the buttercream and then has a layer of fresh berries separating the cake from the spiky meringue. In my book, Zoë Bakes Cakes, there are many buttercream flavors to choose from and you can create your own Diva flavors (just be sure to share with me on Instagram @zoebakes, so I can see what you’ve created). Those fresh berries turned out to be a brilliant layer of protection from the flamethrower I used to toast the meringue. Oh, that is no joke. I got ahold of one of Elon Musk’s Boring Company Flamethrowers and had a blast (see what I did there) torching the top of the cake. You can use a regular kitchen torch to get the job done too. You can watch me make the cake and wield a flamethrower in my instagram video.

Blackberry Opera Torte (Diva Cake) | ZoeBakes photos by Zoë François

Blackberry Opera Torte (Diva Cake) | ZoeBakes photos by Zoë FrançoisBlackberry Opera Torte (Diva Cake) | ZoeBakes photos by Zoë François 

Blackberry Opera Torte (Diva Cake) | ZoeBakes photos by Zoë François

Blackberry Opera Torte | ZoeBakes photos by Zoe Francois

Blackberry Opera Torte (Diva Cake)

This Blackberry Opera Torte, which I have dubbed Diva Cake, is super tall with lots of layers of almond sponge, blackberry buttercream, chocolate ganache and meringue. Find it in my cookbook, Zoe Bakes Cakes.

Ingredients

Joconde (almond sponge cake)

  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (120 g.) almond flour
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100 g.) superfine sugar, plus 2 Tbsp
  • 3 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 pinch kosher salt

Blackberry buttercream

  • 1/2 cup egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 sticks (339g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup blackberry preserves

Chocolate Ganache

  • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 12 ounces heavy whipping cream

Meringue

  • 1 cup egg whites (about 8 egg whites)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Garnish

  • 2 pints (240 g.) fresh blackberries

Instructions

    1. Make the Joconde: Preheat oven to 350°F and line a buttered 11×16″ baking sheet with buttered parchment.
    2. Sift together the almond meal and flour, set aside.
    3. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs and 1/2 cup /100g sugar on high speed until they are at the ribbon stage, about 8 minutes. Turn the speed to medium and continue to whip for 1 minute more. Remove the bowl from the mixer and, using the whisk attachment or a rubber spatula, gently fold the almond mixture into the egg foam in three additions.
    4. In a clean mixer bowl with a clean whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and salt on medium speed just until they start to foam. Slowly sprinkle in the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar to create a French meringue, then whip on high speed until glossy, stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. Gently fold the meringue into the almond batter.
    5. Pour onto the prepared pan and spread evenly with a spatula. Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until set and just golden on top.
    6. Make the buttercream: In the bowl of your stand mixer combine the egg whites and sugar. It will be very thick and grainy.
    7. Put the bowl over a double boiler and stir it with a rubber spatula until the sugar is completely melted. This can take several minutes. You want to brush the sides down with the spatula to make sure all the sugar is melted and no grains are clinging to the sides.
    8. Feel the egg mixture between your fingers to check for graininess. Once it is completely smooth and has no grains left, put it on your stand mixer and beat with the whip attachment on medium high speed.
    9. Beat it until it is light, fluffy, glossy and the bowl feels just about room temperature. If the whites are not cooled off sufficiently it will melt the butter when you add it.
    10. Once the egg whites are whipped and cooled, add the butter to it, 2 tablespoons at a time on medium speed. WARNING: After you have added about half of the butter, it may look curdled and runny, this is normal and you should continue adding the rest of the butter.
    11. Once you have finished adding the butter and it has mixed on medium speed for about a minute the buttercream should be creamy and glossy looking again.* Add the salt, vanilla and blackberry preserves.
    12. Make the ganache: Heat the heavy cream to a simmer. Turn off the heat and add the chopped chocolate. Swirl the pan to submerge the chocolate. Let sit for 3 minutes then gently whisk until smooth. Keep in pot until ready to use.
    13. Assemble the cake: Loosen the cake from the pan. Spread the buttercream over the cake. Refrigerate until solid. Pour the ganache over the chilled buttercream. Refrigerate until solid. Cover the cake with plastic and invert onto the back of a second baking sheet. Remove the parchment from the bottom and invert onto the back of the first pan. Cut the cake in half along the long side and in thirds on the short side, so you have 6 sections. Stack the sections. Use a knife dipped in hot water to clean up any straggly bits. Line the top with blackberries.
    14. Make the meringue: In the bowl of your stand mixer combine the egg whites and sugar. It will be very thick and grainy.
    15. Put the bowl over a double boiler and stir it with a rubber spatula until the sugar is completely melted. This can take several minutes. You want to brush the sides down with the spatula to make sure all the sugar is melted and no grains are clinging to the sides.
    16. Feel the egg mixture between your fingers to check for graininess. Once it is completely smooth and has no grains left, put it on your stand mixer and beat with the whip attachment on medium high speed.
    17. Beat it until it is light, fluffy, glossy and the bowl feels just about room temperature. Create meringue spikes on the top of the blackberries. Use a flamethrower or blowtorch to toast the top.

Notes

*If the buttercream is still runny at this point, it may be that your butter or egg whites were too warm. Just place the bowl in the refrigerator for about 3 minutes and stir, then repeat in the refrigerator for another 3 minutes and stir. This will chill the butter, but the stirring will prevent it from solidifying too much. Repeat this until it is the right consistency.

14 thoughts to “Blackberry Opera Torte (Diva Cake)”

  1. That looks delicious, Zoe.
    On the picture the layers look like, Joconde, ganache, buttercream . Am I seeing this wrong?

    1. Hi Jean, you can probably use all almond flour, but if you have a cup 4 cup gluten free flour mix, it will give it more strength and stability. With all almond meal it will be a little bit delicate.

  2. Hi. This looks amazing but this part confuses me:
    Whip the eggs and sugar in a stand mixer on high speed until they are at the ribbon stage. Gently fold in the almond mixture.
    Whip the egg whites and sugar until stiff peaks. Gently fold them into the almond batter. Pour onto the prepared pan and spread evenly with a spatula…

    Could you explain because as I’m reading it, I whip the eggs and sugar to ribbons then fold in the almond mixture…
    But then whip it to stiff peaks and fold into the batter. Are there two additions of egg whites and sugar for the cake?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Jess, great question. For the Joconde there are both whole eggs (3, at room temp) as well as 3 egg whites. It also calls for 1/2 cup sugar, plus 2 Tbsp. You’ll see that in the recipe now it’s more clear when each of these are added! Please let me know if you have additional questions. I am happy to help!

    1. Hi Dee, that’s so surprising. Did you refrigerate after pouring the ganache over the buttercream? It definitely should have become solid in the fridge.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *