Monday, November 12, 2007

Sandwiches and Sweets party, featuring Opera Cake and Chocolate and Milk Caramel Tarts

Mmmm, sammiches!

Simple whole wheat bread for the November's SAS (Sandwiches and Sweets) party.
whole wheat bread, SAS November

I took a picture of the spread before we dug into it: Roasted red peppers, English and lemon cucumbers, dilled cream cheese, ham, turkey, chicken, grainy mustard, mayo, provolone and colby cheeses, and grapes. Not shown: mixed greens, baby spinach, and pears.
SAS November, sandwich spread

I also made (imitation) crab salad with mustard dressing.
crab salad, SAS November

And of course, the sandwich (for dinner later that night): turkey, chicken, provolone, colby, roasted red pepper, spinach, mayo, mustard, on whole wheat bread. Mmmm, I love toasty sammiches ... love them ... LOVE them.
SAS November, sammich on whole wheat

And the dessert table after the sammie fixins were cleared.
sweets, SAS November

Back Story of the Dessert Table

Opera Cake

I learned how to build Opera cakes in Classical Desserts class. Paris' Dollayau pastry shop named it after the Paris Opera. Forget that Louis Clichy created the dessert in 1903. Glichy gets no love. *sigh* Traditionally, the French dessert is made with dense, thin layers of cake (usually almond, called joconde) soaked in coffee syrup, layered with coffee buttercream and ganache. At school, my ever-ambitious chef-instructor had us include layers of fresh marzipan, and every layer of cake had a layer of everything else on it. Egads! Opera cakes are usually a lot less zealous with layering. The cake must've weight 20 pounds by the time we finished making them! It tasted amazing, though--luscious, rich, and decadent.

It's sort of smooshed from being wrapped in cling wrap for transport back to my house from school.

I've wanted to revisit the Opera Cake ever since. I wanted a twist (of orange), and fewer layers. It started with the leftover orange chiffon cake from the Daring Bakers Bostini challenge.
opera cake, SAS November

I'm not a huge American buttercream fan, so I made Swiss meringue buttercream, flavored with cardamom. My ganache was thick, so I spread it on, instead of just pouring it. It doesn't have the traditional smooth top, but it tasted just as well, and I like the handmade touch.
SAS November, Opera cake

The last step is to trim away the rough edges.
opera cake, SAS November

And serve it in thin slices. Or with just a fork and a good cup of chai tea.
opera cake, SAS November

I also served milk chocolate and caramel tarts, which the Daring Bakers made in August.
milk chocolate and caramel tart, SAS November

Hazelnut cocoa tart shells
milk chocolate and caramel tart, SAS November

Inset with creamy, buttery caramel
milk chocolate and caramel tart, SAS November

Topped with milk chocolate mousse, and garnished with toasted hazelnuts for crunch. It was supposed to be hard caramel bits, but I ran out of sugar. Yikes!
SAS November, milk chocolate and caramel tart

6 comments:

Kribha said...

OMG! Julie why are you doing this to me? Your desserts look absolutely fabulous. Could you share the recipes too. It's fantastic.

Julie said...

Hello, Kribha! I thought I responded to your comment last night! Maybe I only dreamt it. Haha! Either way, I posted the recipes at this site. If you make them, please tell me how they turned out! I'm glad you enjoyed the post! Thanks for your continued kind words.

Rachel said...

The spread looks awesome...visual treat indeed..bet they tasted as good...I so so wish I was there to dig into those delicacies :)

Julie said...

Rachel, thank you so much! I love to share--if you're ever in town, let me know--I love having dinner guests.

s.j.simon said...

lol. did you know that chocolate was banned in switzerland for many years. read this

Julie said...

s.j., I didn't know that! My poor, virtuous spirit! Okay, I'm not that virtuous, and it's hardly poor! It's amazing to know what sorts of food were banned or deemed dangerous. One of my favorite food history tidbits deals with the shunning of members fo the nightshade family, like tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant, because they were considered poisonous!