Opera Estragon

For Olivier Dupon, author of The New Pâtissiers, this entremet’s seven layers, including two layers of dacquoise and ganache, make for a highly-sophisticated dessert.
“The central crunchy almond croquant layer contrasts well with the other softer layers, which also individually play their part,” Olivier says.
The sponge texture of the dacquoise embraces the smooth pink crémeux and tarragon infused ganache, while the incorporated blackcurrants adds a pop of acidity.”
Opera Estragon is a favoured recipe of Arnaud Delmontel, a Paris-based pastry chef well-known for his colourful entremets and macarons. The recipe is a re-invention of the traditional French Opera cake, however, berries, tarragon and pink colouring replace coffee and chocolate.
Although the recipe requires patience and care, Olivier says the opera estragon is certainly achievable for bakers.
“The main challenge resides in assembling the cake and getting the harmony of the flavours right,” Olivier says.
Editor’s note: Some instructions and measurement guides from The New Pâtissiers have been simplified.

Serves

Makes 1

Preparation Time

4 hours (excluding 24 hours infusing time)

WHAT YOU NEED

For the Dacquoise

Egg whites: 250g
Granulated white sugar: 63g
Red food colouring
(to achieve desired colour)
Icing (confectioner’s) sugar: 63g
Plain (all-purpose) flour: 50g
Almond meal: 188g

For the almond ‘croquant’

Unsalted butter: 45g
Icing (confectioner’s) sugar: 55g
Plain (all-purpose) flour: 15g
Almond flakes: 60g

For the red berry crémeux

Red berry mix purée: 100g
Whole egg: 38g
Egg yolks: 60g
Granulated white sugar: 50g
Gelatine (gold): 5g or 2.5 sheets (softened in
ice-cold water, with excess water squeezed out)
Unsalted butter: 38g

For the tarragon ganache

Whipping cream (35 per cent fat): 375g
Fresh tarragon: 12g
White chocolate couverture (such as Ivoire 35
per cent by Valrhona): 450g

For the opera glazing

Ivory pâte à glacer: 50g (white glazing compound,
such as Ivory [Ivoire] compound coating by Cacao
Barry, or Original White by Carma. If this cannot be
obtained, substitute 50g premium white cooking
compound and follow the same method).
White chocolate couverture: 100g
Vegetable oil: 12.5g
Red food colouring (to achieve desired colour)

Specialty Equipment

20x40cm baking tray
digital candy thermometer

WHAT TO DO

Dacquoise

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C;
2. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, then slowly add the granulated sugar;
3. Continue beating until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is smooth and shiny;
4. Add enough food colouring to make the desired shade of pink;
5. Fold the icing sugar, flour and almond meal into the mixture;
6. Spread out onto the silicone baking paper-lined tray of at least 20 x 40cm, as you will need to cut two 20 x 20cm squares of dacquoise to make the finished cake; and
7. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until slightly crisp on top.

Almond ‘croquant’

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C;
2. Mix the soft butter with the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer;
3. Add the flour and combine;
4. Spread out to form a square of at least 20 x 20cm on a silicone baking paper sheet;
5. Sprinkle the almond flakes evenly on top;
6. Bake for 15-17 minutes; and
7. Leave to cool, then cut out the 20 x 20cm square.

Red berry crémeux

1. Bring the red berry mix purée to the boil;
2. Separately blend the whole egg and egg yolks with the sugar;
3. Pour in some of the purée and combine;
4. Pour this mixture back into the remainder of the purée and heat to 87°C, mixing well;
5. Remove from the heat, add in the gelatine and butter, and stir until well combined; and
6. Leave to cool in a container sealed with plastic wrap for 2-4 hours, or until thick.

Tarragon ganache

1. Heat together the cream and the tarragon;
2. Remove from the heat and allow to infuse for 24 hours;
After the infusion period, remove the tarragon and bring to the boil;
4. Pour over the chopped chocolate, stir until combined and smooth, then leave to cool.

Opera glazing

1. Melt the pâte and the chocolate together in a bain-marie; and
2. Add in the oil and enough food colouring to make the desired shade of pink, then mix.

Assembling

Component blackcurrants (140g/1 cup)
Thinly spread some of the tarragon ganache to form a layer of approximately 0.5cm in the bottomed frame or cake tin. Add the first layer of dacquoise. Add the red berry crémeux, which you will need to whisk to make smooth. Carefully add the almond ‘croquant’. Spread out the remainder of the ganache and incorporate the blackcurrants. Finish with the second layer of dacquoise. Freeze, unmould, turn over and top with the opera glazing. Slice before the cake is fully defrosted. You could also garnish each slice with edible silver leaf.


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