My Lavender Opéra

I can't believe it's November already! It's less than two months till Christmas and two weeks until I pack up and leave this beautiful city of love. I have about 30kg of cookbooks that I have accumulated this past year that I am currently a little stressed about shipping.. I know I have been imprudent about my book hoarding but I really couldn't help myself! The latest addition to my collection is the "La pâtisserie des rêves" cookbook by "Philippe Conticini". I've always loved the Japan-influenced design of the pastries from La Pâtisserie des Rêves (translation: "The pastry shop of dreams"! Cute right?) for their subtle whimsicality.

I've had several friends ask me about the steps I take to design and create my own cakes. I think it is really important to read as many books/magazines as you can! You could even start a Pinterest account and pin everything that catches your eye. I think once you've decided your aesthetic and figured out what it is about a particular thing that you like, it is really easy to start to create your own products. 

For this latest cake, I've decided to approach one of the French patisserie staples; the "Opera" and give it my own twist. The classic gateau Opera was invented by Maison Dalloyau 1955. It is composed of 3 layers of joconde biscuit which are imbibed with coffee syrup, 2 layers of coffee buttercream and a layer of dark chocolate ganache. I think this cake is perfect, simple and super delicious. You would find this cake in any pastry shop around the world. To be honest, I wouldn't change a thing. But for me, the concept of a "Lavender Opera" became too hard to ignore.

Opéra - Création Dalloyau 1955

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you would know that I am rather fascinated by floral flavors. I think a subtle floral element can really pique the eater's curiosity and has the potential to turn the act of eating into an experience. So for the past few weeks, I've been trying to think up ways to work lavender into a cake. Lavender has a strong aroma that can easily overpower any other flavors that it is paired with. However, I then had the idea of using earl grey tea to balance it out. In my mind the fragrant bergamot will hold its own against the lavender while also providing a nice foundation of which the lavender can really shine. 

So here is my floral interpretation of the French classic:

For my cake, I used 2 layers of joconde biscuit which I imbibed with earl grey syrup, a layer of chocolate financier, 2 layers of earl grey mascarpone cream and a gorgeous layer of lavender infused ganache. I gave the cake a light spraying of cocoa butter, a sprinkling of dried flowers and candied violets to finish. I gotta say, I'm pretty proud of this one :)

Are you feeling a little skeptical about lavender in a cake? Why don't you try the recipe and see if you like it? I sure did!

My Lavender & Earl Grey Opera Cake

Earl grey mascarpone cream
150 ml cream
1 earl grey tea bag (I used Twinings)
250 g mascarpone
40 g powdered sugar
dash of vanilla

Bring cream to the boil, quickly take off heat
Add in the tea bag and steep for 4 minutes
Squeeze tea bag and remove, strain cream into a clean bowl
Refrigerate until cold
Mix cream, mascarpone, powdered sugar and vanilla until thickened in texture

Keep cool

Earl grey syrup
150 ml water
1 earl grey tea bag
80 g sugar

Bring water to the boil in a saucepan
Steep tea bag in water for 4 minutes
Squeeze tea bag and remove
Add in sugar and stir to dissolve
Bring back to a rolling boil
Pour into a clean bowl and cool completely

Lavender Ganache
150 ml cream
100 g dark chocolate - chopped
1 t dried lavender

Bring cream and dried lavender into a light boil
Take off heat and leave to infuse for 5 minutes
Bring back to a simmer and strain cream into dark chocolate
Stir with a whisk to combine

Cover with plastic wrap in contact
Let cool to room temperature

Chocolate Financier
75 g good quality dark chocolate
35 g sugar
40 g unsalted butter
20 g flour
20 g ground almonds
2 egg whites
pinch of salt
dash of vanilla

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C
Melt chocolate and butter in the microwave or a hot water bath
Sift and combine all the dry ingredients
Add egg whites into the dry ingredients and combine with a whisk
Lastly, add chocolate and whisk until incorporated
Spread out thinly onto a baking sheet 

Bake for 6 to 8 minutes until set

Cool completely 

2 eggs
70 g ground almonds
60 g powdered sugar
20 g flour
60 g egg whites
20 g white sugar

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C
Prepare a baking tray and baking paper
Combine ground almonds, powdered sugar and flour
Add in 2 eggs and whisk until combined
Whip egg whites and white sugar until stiff peaks
Add a 1/2 cup full of the meringue into the almond mixture and whisk to lighten the mixture
Add in the rest of the meringue into the almond mixture and fold until only just incorporated
Spread out onto a baking sheet (5mm thickness)

Bake for around 10 minutes until lightly browned

Cool completely

75 g dark chocolate - melted

Remove paper from underneath the joconde
Cut in half lengthwise

Using an offset spatula, spread a thin layer of dark chocolate on the underside of the joconde

Place a piece of baking paper on the chocolate and turn it around so the chocolate side is facing down on the counter. This step is done so that the sticky joconde will not stick on plates or serving boards.

Imbibe the joconde well with earl grey syrup and a clean brush

Spread on half of the earl grey mascarpone cream

Place the chocolate financier on top

Spread on all the lavender ganache over the financier

Imbibe the underside of the other half of the joconde

Place it on the ganache imbibed-side down and imbibe the top of the joconde

Spread on the rest of the earl grey mascarpone and freeze until cream is set

Spray with white cocoa butter
Cut into desired size

Decorate with dried / candied flowers

Well that's all folks :)
Thanks for reading!

x Tal

ps. I've contacted the winners for the Teacups album giveaway! Thank you all who had entered and congrats to the winners! Your albums are on the way :)


  1. Just love it....still wonder how u do it???

  2. I think I might try this one! It looks amazing! Still holding out for that apple bread recipe thing!

  3. Anonymous9.11.12

    I can never cut clean edges. Do you cut it while it is still frozen? Do you use a serrated knife? Any other hints?

    1. It's best to cut it while it's still cold but not frozen. Don't use a serrated knife, you need a long chef's knife and cut downwards in one sure motion. Also, use a ruler to measure and mark just where to cut :) hope that helps! -Tal

    2. Anonymous9.11.12

      Thanks. What size is the recommended size for things like this? 1 inch by 3 inches?

    3. It actually varies from store to store. I cut mine to 3x10cm because I like the longer look, and it's easier to cut with a fork when it's narrow. But it's totally up to you.

  4. I tried lavender ice cream a few years ago- It was delicious! Middle Eastern food incorporate florals like rose and orange water.

    Polly xx

  5. Anonymous20.5.14

    Hi Talita

    Really loving your blog and your passion with the artistic dessert making. Just got a question regarding your spray. How do you make cocoa butter for spraying?

    Many thanks

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