Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Hazelnut Opera Cake with Chocolate Hazelnut Macarons

The past week went by so fast and I hardly had any time to bake or blog. As busy as I were, I had to reserve some time to bake for my FIL's birthday on Saturday. And since my niece's birthday was relatively close, it would only be nice that I bake her something as well...something she loves....chocolate macarons. (^_^) And so the idea of cake + macaron combination was born. After much deliberation, I went with Hazelnut Opera Cake with Chocolate Hazelnut Macarons! I'm sure many of you have seen those big bakeries selling fancy cakes with gorgeous macarons as decorations...so here is my own version:
I was pretty please with the outcome of the cake and the macarons, since both are my first attempt. Okay, the macs perhaps not exactly first time but it's my first time using ground hazelnut in place of almond. Outcome....just like Nutella! Lol! If you love Nutella, you should definitely try using hazelnut instead of almond next time. :)
Pardon my poor filling skill, I was rushing these macs out for my niece that evening on her birthday. Luckily I still manage to finish all my chores, bake & fill them before 9pm..phew! Check out the recipe:

Chocolate Hazelnut Macarons (makes about 20 cookies)
100g Hazelnut meal (I ground mine from whole blanched and toasted hazelnuts)
100g icing sugar
1 heaping tbsp cocoa powder (I used Valrohna)
38g fresh egg whites (about 2 egg whites)
pinch of salt

100g caster sugar
24ml water

38g aged egg whites (about 2 egg whites)
  • In a blender, finely ground the hazelnut powder and confectioner's sugar together till powdery like. Then pour it into a bowl and add in the Cocoa powder. Then mix in the egg white and salt. Stir and mix well. Mixture will be thick.

  • In a saucepan placed over medium fire, heat up the sugar and water. Once the sugar has all melted, place your candy thermometer in and monitor it till it reaches ~108C. Once it reaches 108C, beat the egg white at high speed till it reaches soft peaks, which by then the temperature should be close to 118C.

  • Slowly drizzle the sugar syrup into the egg white while the mixer is still at medium speed. Once all the syrup is in, continue to beat till the meringue is glossy.

  • Fold in 1/3 of the meringue into the hazelnut meal mixture. Since the hazelnut mixture is thick, you'll need to stir harder to incorporate it well. Repeat the other 2 portions and fold in gently.

  • Scoop the batter into a piping bag with an 10mm nozzle. Pipe out on a baking tray lined with baking parchment paper. Let rest for 10 minutes while you preheat the oven to 150C with fan off.

  • After 10 minutes, bake the cookies in the oven for 14mins.

  • After baking, remove from oven and let cool completely before peeling off.

Note: That day was raining whole day, so it was exceptionally humid. Obviously 10 minutes of waiting for the shells to dry will not be suffice. Not wanting to wait too long for the shells to dry up before baking...I decided to use the oven to dry my shells a little. I preheated the oven to 100C for a couple minutes, off it and place my piped batter in for 5 to 8 minutes. To check if you shells are ready for baking...gently tab the shells. If its still sticky, repeat the drying process in the oven again. If it's not sticky and no batter is on your finger, it's ready for baking. However, DO NOT over dry them...you might end up having cracked or deflated macs in the end. Just enough to have the shells not stick to your fingers will be perfect.
This Opera Cake recipe is actually from I was really impress with her nice layering, plus I've not tried baking an opera cake before. And since original recipe uses almond meal, I changed it to hazelnut meal to match with my macs. :)) Here is my version of the cake:

Hazelnut Opera Cake: (makes an 10" square)
Cake Batter : Set (A)
5 whole eggs + 1 egg yolk
130g confectioner's sugar
160g Hazelnut meal (Mine are ground from whole, blanched, tasted hazelnuts)\
40g cocoa powder ( I used Valrohna)
60g cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
40ml vegetable oil

Set (B):
3 egg whites
30g confectioner's sugar
1 tsp cornflour
  • Mix all the dry ingredients together. Sift and set aside for use later.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs, egg yolk and sugar in. Beat the mixture till it triple in volume and leaves a significant ribbon. Takes about 7 to 8 minutes. Be sure to reduce the beater's speed to low and let it run for an additional minute to reduce the large bubbles present in the batter.
  • Sift in the dry ingredients to the egg mixture in 3 separate portions and gently fold in till no visible lumps.
  • Add in the vegetable oil and again fold in gently till all is well combined.
  • Preheat the oven to 175C. Grease and line a 10" removable base square cake pan with parchment.
  • In a separate mixer bowl, add in the egg whites and beat till foamy. Gradually add in the sugar and beat till soft peaks. Now add in the cornflour and continue to beat till it is well combined and still peaks.
  • Fold the whites into the main batter in 2 separate portions till nicely incorporated.
  • Pour the batter into a greased and parchment lined cake pan and bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes till the tester comes out clean.
  • Cool completely on rack before slicing. When cooled, slice the cake in 4 equal thickness slices.
Chocolate garnache:
300g dark chocolate, chopped small
150ml fresh heavy cream
10g unsalted butter
1/2 pack of instant coffee mixed in 3 tbsp of boiling water

In a heat proof pan, heat the cream till almost bubbly. Pour the liquid over the chopped chocolate and butter. Leave the mixture without stirring for 5 minutes. After 5mins, stir the mixture till all the chocolate chunks are melted and its smooth and thick. Add in the coffee mixture, mix well. Let cool at room temperature (no chilling) for use later.

Chocolate-coffee Swiss Meringue Buttercream:

75g chopped dark chocolate

300g Swiss Meringue Buttercream

1/2 pack of instant coffee mixed in 3 tbsp of boiling water

Melt the chocolate in the microwave and let cool for a minute before mixing into the room temperature buttercream. Then add in the coffee mixture, and mix everything well.

  • Start with one layer one cake at the base. Then spread 1/2 of the buttercream over it evenly.
  • Next place another layer of cake over the cream.
  • Then spread 1/4 of the chocolate garnache evenly over the cake.
  • Then lay the next cake layer over. And again spread evenly the other half of the buttercream over the cake.
  • Lay the last layer of cake over and then spread 2/3 of the remaining the garnache all over cake. Chill for 30 minutes, remove from fridge and spread more neatly with the last of the garnache.
  • Decorate at will. :)
Seems like so much work isn't it?! Lol! Yes it is! But I guess it's all worth it if it is well enjoyed by all your family and loved ones ya?
Notice the layers are all squished, hahaha! But taste wise was still very good. :) The cake has a nice hazelnut taste plus a hint of coffee to it. With chocolate blend to it, it's perfect.

I am happy to submit this to Aspiring Bakers #17: March Macaron Madness! (Mar 2012) hosted by Alan of Travellingfoodies. Have you bake your mac yet? There's still plenty of time...attempt it and conquer it! Happy baking!

Have a wonderful week ahead everyone!!


Angie's Recipes said...

A decadent cake...it really is!
Happy belated Birthday to your FIL!

Wen said...

So beautiful! Well done!

Daphne said...

What a lovely cake with the macaroons :) Nice job!

Edith said...

you are such a sweet auntie.

Happy Birthday to your FIL and niece!

Awayofmind Bakery House said...

Nice macaron with the lovely cake!

鲸鱼蓝蓝蓝 said...


Umm Mymoonah said...

Wow! That looks amazing,perfect.

lena said...

bee, top class cake!! also a priceless one! i can tell that all your efforts are well paid off!! is there a type error..i see earl grey leaves in your recipe..

Honey Bee Sweets said...

Thank you thank you lena! Heehee, yeah I lazy la, just cut and paste! Was writing up this post until pass mid night yesterday...stress...thanks for pointing it out! ^_^

WendyinKK said...

I've only eaten Opera once, made by Swee San and it was very very delicious. Yours is making me wish that cake is mine.

I also bought some hazelnut meal (lazy me) to try out for macs, but the lazy butt refuses to move.
Since you've tried it and yours looks so pretty and tall, I guess if my macs fail, then surely it's my fault, not the nut's. LOL.

Jo said...

I think this cake is absolutely gorgeous. A great cake to present for your FIL birthday.

Zoe said...

This cake is super-impressive! Your family must be extremely happy eating this cake!

Happy birthday to your FIL and niece!

hanushi said...

Lovely!!! Macarons and Opera cakes are really difficult, to me. :) Well done.

AN said...

You've created a very impressive cake!

Swee San @ the Sweet Spot said...

very pretty!!
i've always love the classic opera, did u put any coffee syrup to it for the extra kick? hehe the macarons look great!

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

My 1st time taken Opera cake was in Bangkok actually, have been bookmark this recipe long ago, need to find free time to make this..you have nicely done this cake and the macarons!

Joyce @ Chunky Cooky said...

Wow.. thats a very gorgeous cake you have made.. well done !

ReeseKitchen said...

This is so beautifully done, my friend! So nice of you to bake for your niece and FIL...hmm, I've not been baking since my last tarts..hehe! Lazy and no eaters here...our friends all on diet leh..plus SH now bakes for herself (usually bread) most of the time!!

Honey Bee Sweets said...

Thanks dear friend. Wah...SH so on now? Glad that she's putting her KA in to good use! Hahaha!

Honey Bee Sweets said...

Thanks Joyce!

Honey Bee Sweets said...

Oh, then I'm really looking forward to your opera cake post Sonia!

Honey Bee Sweets said...

Thanks so much Swee San! I've still got lots to learn, especially from good bakers like u!

Honey Bee Sweets said...

Thanks so much for the encouragement Agnes!

Honey Bee Sweets said...

Thanks so much hanushi! Mmmm...actually I feel that it's a matter of luck + practice...so hope u will give it a try next time. Jia you!

Honey Bee Sweets said...

Thanks so much Zoe!

Honey Bee Sweets said...

Thanks Jo! Actually my FIL didn't comment much...he's usually like that. But he did finish his slice, lol

Honey Bee Sweets said...

You so lucky to have Swee San to bake for you ladies! I wish someone will bake for me too....
Ai ya, you can still bake hazelnut to some other flavoring mah...will still be different la. Don't be lazy...quick go bake! Lol!

Honey Bee Sweets said...

Umm Mymoonah, thanks for dropping by and your encouragement!

Honey Bee Sweets said...


Honey Bee Sweets said...

Thanks Ah Tze! Hope u will drop by more often. 😊

Honey Bee Sweets said...

Thanks Edith!

Honey Bee Sweets said...

Thanks so much Daphne!

Honey Bee Sweets said...

Thanks for your encouragement Wen!

Honey Bee Sweets said...

Thanks for dropping by Angie! And thanks for your lovely encouragement!

My Little Space said...

Oh my oh my Bee, I just want to fly over and join you. Happy Belated Birthday to you FIL. I love homemade opera cake. It much tastier than the store bought ones.
Enjoy your day.

Dumpling Love said...

That is such an impressive cake! and macarons too!

Happy Birthday to your FIL and niece =)

Quay Po Cooks said...

Both my favorite. Good job.

Sammie said...

Gorgeous cake! beautiful decorations and great macarons!!