L’Opera Ice Cream Cake


L'Opera Ice Cream CakeIce Cream Cake runs the gamut from basic to elegant.  My love for L’Opera with its combination of coffee and chocolate is well known and now I have added another dimension to this favorite flavor combination by replacing the coffee buttercream with coffee ice cream.

Layers of coffee liqueur soaked almond sponge cake, chocolate ganache, and coffee ice cream are the component parts of this exquisite ice cream cake.  It definitely conjures up thoughts of something special and it won’t disappoint.  While this may look formidable, every part is made ahead and can be done at different times so it is very doable.

Although I used homemade no-churn ice cream, this could also be made with a bought coffee ice cream if you want to skip that step. I will say the no-churn version is the creamiest, best coffee ice cream I have ever eaten.  But it comes with a caveat.  It softens quickly.   However, you shouldn’t have a problem if you just cut it and serve it.   Everything in the recipe can and should be made ahead for easy assembly.

The completed ice cream cake can be frozen for a month well wrapped after it is completely frozen.  There is some waiting time between layers as each one needs to be frozen before proceeding to the next.  However, since the next step only takes a matter of minutes it’s not a big deal at all.

To easily remove the ice cream cake from the loaf pan, I lined it with plastic wrap.  However, it wrinkles like mad on the sides and I’m not sure I would do it that way again.  I think I might just assemble it in the loaf pan without the plastic wrap and then release it by warming the outside of the pan very briefly with a hair blower and slide it out.  The sides would definitely be better looking but anyway you do it is fine.  The important thing is the taste will be there.

While I use instant coffee, espresso can be used but cut it at least in half since it is so much stronger.

Ice Cream Cakes are wonderful, combining the best of both worlds.  My L’Opera Ice Cream Cake is, in my humble opinion (which I guess doesn’t sound very humble) the best.

Almond Sponge for L’Opera Ice Cream CakeAlmond Sponge Ingredients for L'Opera Ice Cream Cake

This can be made a month ahead and frozen if desired.  In any case, it should be frozen for easiest assembly. It is also referred to as Jaconde.

4 eggs
1 cup almond flour (100 grams or 3 1/2 ounces)
2/3 cup sugar (135 grams or 4 2/3 ounces)
1/3 cup flour (45 grams or 1 1/2 ounces)
4 egg whites (128 grams or 4 1/2 ounces)
2 tablespoons sugar (25 grams or scan 1 ounce)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a half sheet pan lightly with a baking release.  Line with parchment paper and spray the paper.  Set aside.

Fit a mixer with the whisk attachment.  Beat the whole eggs, almond flour, and sugar Ingredients in mixeruntil very light and almost white.  Fold the flour in lightly.  This is easiest done with a whisk.

In a clean bowl with a clean whisk attachment, beat the whites until soft peaks form.  Add the sugar a little at a time and beat until stiff but pliable.  Pour the egg mixture over the whites and fold in being careful not to knock the air out of the whites.Whites added to sponge

Pour into the prepared sheet pan, spread out evenly andSponge in pan bake for 12 to 14 minutes.  It will be lightly colored and firm.  Do not underbake.  Cool completely and freeze.

Coffee Soaking Syrup

Using the ingredients below, go here for how-to pictures.

1/3 cup water
1/2 cup sugar (100 grams or 3 1/2 ounces)
1 teaspoon instant coffee
2 tablespoons coffee-flavored liqueur*

*If you don’t want to use the liqueur, increase the coffee to 2 teaspoons and use 2 tablespoons water.

Combine the water and sugar in a small pan.  Bring to a boil and boil hard for 3 to 5 minutes until reduced to about 2/3 of a cup. Dissolve the coffee in the liqueur or water and add to the sugar syrup.  Cool completely, store in a container and refrigerate up to a week ahead.

Yield:  3/4 cup

No-Churn Coffee Ice CreamIce cream ingredients

This ice cream takes a while to set up so start at least a day ahead of assembly or up to a month ahead. It will soften faster than store-bought ice cream which may also be used.  However, the flavor is, by far, the best.

2 tablespoons instant coffee
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 – 14 ounce can condensed milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Dissolve the instant coffee in the vanilla.Diluted Coffee mixture for L'Opera Ice Cream Cake

Pour the condensed milk into a medium-size bowl and stir in the coffee mixture.Coffee base for ice cream

Whip the cream until stiff but still pliable.  Pour the milk mixture over the cream and fold in.Coffee Ice Cream for L'Opera Ice Cream Cake

Divide into two bowls (about 1 1/2 cups each) if possible and place in the freezer overnight.  This makes it much easier to assemble.

Dark Satin Ganache

Go here for how-to photos.

1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup corn syrup (70 grams or 2 1/2 ounces)
5 tablespoons butter (75 grams or 2 1/2 ounces)
10 ounces semisweet chocolate (285 grams)

Combine the cream, corn syrup, and butter in a small pan.  Heat until the butter is melted and the mixture is hot but not boiling. Remove from the heat and submerge the chocolate in the mixture.

Let sit for a few minutes and then gently whisk to combine until smooth.

Pour into a container and refrigerate up to 10 days before assembly.

Assembly of L’Opera Ice Cream Cake

Almond Sponge, frozen
Coffee Soaking Syrup
Coffee Ice Cream, one bowl softened so it is spreadable
Dark Satin Ganache, warmed so it is spreadable

Line a 9×5 loaf pan with plastic wrap allowing it to overhang the short sidePan line with plastic wrap or leave it unlined for a smoother finish.

Cut three 9×5 inch rectangles from the frozen almond sponge as shown below.  Sponge cutCut the pieces into the sizes shown below.  It is easier to do this if the rectangles are kept frozen so work with one piece at a time.

Return them to the freezer when cut.

Bottom layer – cut 4 x8 1/4 inches
Middle layer – cut 4 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches
Top Layer cut 5 x 8 3/4 inches

Place the bottom layer of sponge in the 9×5 inch loaf pan.  Brush 1/4 cup coffee soaking syrup evenly over the cake layer.First layer in pan with coffee syrup

Spread with 1/2 cup ganache. First layer ganache on

Freeze for a few minutes until the chocolate is firm.Ganache frozenSpread half of the ice cream evenly over the ganache.  Ice cream over ganachePlace in the freezer and freeze until firm.  If you use the no-churn ice cream, it will take several hours.

When the bottom assembly is hard, repeat with the middle layer of the sponge, soaking syrup and ganache. Freeze again.  Spread the remaining ice cream over the ganache and let it freeze until hard.

Top with the top layer of sponge and soaking syrup.  Freeze overnight.Layered Ice Cream Cake

Return the remaining ganache to the refrigerator.

When ready to finish, release the L’Opera Ice Cream Cake from the pan by lifting it out of the pan with the overhanging plastic wrap.  Or, if not using the plastic wrap, turn it upside down on a cake board or a flat dish and heat the outside very briefly with a hair blower.  Remove the pan.  In either case, the ice cream cake should be upside down.Released Cake

Place it back in the freezer while you warm the ganache.

Pour the ganache down the middle of the cake and spread it out, going side to side with an offset spatula allowing the excess to run down the sides.Ganache finished ice cream cake

Place in the freezer until serving.

Cut with a hot dry knife into 1/2 to 3/4 inch pieces.

Serves 12 to 14.

Other blogs you might enjoy include:
L’Opera Petit Fours
Caramel Brickle No-Churn ice Cream
No-Churn Nutella Ice Cream

Pastry has not only been my profession, but my passion. If there is anything in particular you would like to see or any questions about baking or pastry, please let me know. Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss a post!
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10 thoughts on “L’Opera Ice Cream Cake

  1. Maureen

    Hi Helen, I have enjoyed reading your blog with your vast knowledge, such thorough recipes and your kind and generous spirit. Thank you! I wanted to let you know that I tried this fabulous cake to cap off a family dinner celebration that was a send-off for my daughter’s semester in Vietnam. I used Graeter’s coffee ice cream (from Cincinnati), which is quite wonderful. I didn’t freeze the layers as long as you indicated, but they set up fine. My sides and top were also a bit wrinkly from the plastic wrap, but I gave them a small trim (treat for the baker) before icing. Well worth the effort for this showstopper of a dessert!

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Maureen, thank you for such a wonderful comment. I certainly appreciate it and am so happy the dessert was a success for such an important occasion. You are correct in that purchased ice cream, which is fine, will not take as long to set up. I disliked the wrinkly part and one of my readers suggested lining the pan with parchment paper, cut out to fit. This would make much better looking sides. I should be embarrassed to admit that my husband and I ate the whole thing over a number of days. Of course, I hardly ate the following week.

  2. Lynette Pruett

    This sounds amazing, Helen! My birthday is coming up next month, and I think I’ve found the recipe for this year’s celebratory cake! Yum!

      1. Lynette Pruett

        The make-ahead feature is one thing that attracts me to this recipe! After rereading the recipe, I have a question on the ice cream. The ingredients are listed as instant coffee, vanilla, condensed milk and whipping cream. Since none of those ingredients contain added sugar, I’m wondering if the “condensed milk” might instead be sweetened condensed milk, which does contain added sugar. It’s just hard for me to imagine that an ice cream with no added sugar and such a strong flavor as coffee could be palatable. Could you please verify? Thanks!

        1. hfletcher Post author

          Hi Lynette, I am not aware of any condensed milk that is not sweetened. Some are low fat but all, to my knowledge are sweetened and yes, that is why no sugar is required.

          1. Lynette Pruett

            Thanks for the comment, Helen. I guess I’ve always thought of the word “condensed” as meaning having water removed, and therefore have always specified “SWEETENED condensed milk” to mean that with sugar added as opposed to “condensed milk”, meaning the plain milk with water removed that also comes in cans, but has no sugar. I guess another word for the latter is “evaporated”.
            Thank you for this recipe, and I do look forward to making it.

  3. T

    If using the No Churn Ice Cream in your L’Opera Ice Cream Cake, could you use a stablizer such as clear gelatin in the ice cream and still freeze? Cake sounds amazing! Thanks.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      I don’t know. I have never used gelatin in ice cream. I really don’t think you will need it if you serve it without letting it sit out too long. Mine softened extra quick because I use hot lights for the photography which speeding things up a bit. In all modesty, the cake is amazing. I do think it was one of my best ideas. HOpe you think so too,.

    2. hfletcher Post author

      I’ve never tried it Phil and not sure I would. It shouldn’t be a problem unless you cut the slices and hold them at room temperature. I was working under hot photo lights and that amplifies everything.

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