One of our signature dishes - this has all the elements of chocolate. It's on the Prestige Menu in the Restaurant. Stephen, my head pastry chef, takes great pride in his chocolate work and this dessert really showcases it.
- 4 eggs, separated
- 100 g (4oz) caster sugar
- 25 g (1oz) cocoa powder, sieved
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp instant coffee granules
- 50 g (2oz) caster sugar
- 250 g (9oz) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 vanilla pod, split in half and seeds scraped out
- 250 g (9oz) plain chocolate, broken into squares (at least 70% cocoa solids)
- 250 ml (9fl oz) cream
- 50 ml (2fl oz) coole swan dairy cream liqueur
- 100 g (4oz) butter, plus a little extra
- 100 g (4oz) plain chocolate, broken into squares (at least 70% cocoa solids)
- 125 g (4 1/2oz) caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 50 g (2oz) plain flour, sieved, plus a little extra for dusting
- 30 plain chocolate drops
- To prepare the chocolate roulade for the opera cake, preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F/gas mark 5). Mix the egg yolks with 70g (2 3/4oz) of the sugar and the cocoa powder in a bowl. In a separate clean, dry bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff, then gradually add the remaining 30g (1 1/4oz) sugar and beat until stiff and glossy. Gently fold the meringue into the yolk mixture, then spread on a non-stick baking tin lined with parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the tin and allow to cool.
- To prepare the Italian buttercream, place the egg, egg yolk and coffee granules into a bowl and whisk to sabayon stage. Put the caster sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a heavy-based pan and cook until it reaches the soft ball stage – 116°C (240°F). At this stage, add the hot sugar to the egg mix and mix until it begins to go cold (feel the outside of the bowl – this will indicate the mixture going cold). Gradually add the butter to the mixture in the bowl, beating all the time. When the mixture is soft and fluffy, add the vanilla seeds. Cover with clingfilm and set aside until needed.
- To prepare the ganache, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Bring the cream to the boil in a heavy-based pan, then stir in the melted chocolate along with the Coole Swan and mix together to combine. Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool completely, stirring occasionally to ensure it stays smooth.
- To assemble the opera cake, using a square bread tin or flan mould, cut the roulade in three to fit into the tin. For the first layer, spread over the cooled chocolate ganache and leave to set in the fridge, then spread over a layer of the Italian buttercream, cover with the roulade and leave to set. Repeat the layers two more times until you have three layers of each and all the mixtures have been used up. This will keep in the fridge or you can store it in the freezer until you need it.
- Meanwhile, to prepare the chocolate fondants, grease 10 x 50ml (2fl oz) dariole moulds that are 15cm (6in) square with a little butter and then dust with plain flour. Place in the freezer to set for at least 10 minutes.
- Melt the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Remove from the heat and leave to cool a little. Whisk the sugar, eggs and egg yolks in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, then gently fold in the flour.
- Pipe or spoon the chocolate mixture into the prepared dariole moulds until each one is no more than about one-third full, gently tapping to remove any air bubbles. Place 3 chocolate drops into the centre of each dariole mould, then add the remaining chocolate mixture until the chocolate drops are completely covered but the dariole moulds are no more than halfway full. Place in the fridge for 2 hours, until firm but still a little sticky to the touch.
- To cook the chocolate fondants, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/gas mark 5). Arrange the prepared fondants on a baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes, until just cooked but still soft in the centre. Leave to rest for a minute or two.
- To serve, arrange a chocolate delice on each plate and place a piece of the opera cake alongside. Add the chocolate fondant and a scoop of vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce to each one.
Cook ahead: All the components of this dish can be made 2–3 days in advance. The opera and delice can be frozen and the fondant can also be frozen and baked just before serving.