Chef Linda
Linda Soper-Kolton, Chef, came to the Sanctuary as a guest chef to share her love of compassionate cooking in our then-fledgling culinary program. Lured by the magic of the Sanctuary, her love of animals and the urgency of our mission, Linda stayed on to lead and grow the culinary program, inspiring and educating with love, patience, and delicious food.
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Chef Sara
Sara Boan, Chef, joined the Sanctuary staff in 2016 and has been developing recipes and sharing her passion for vegan cooking ever since. She teaches award-winning year-round vegan cooking classes at The Homestead and leads food demos for weekend tour visitors in the spring, summer and fall. When she’s not teaching, Sara is most likely spending time with her partner, snuggling with her rescued kitties or enjoying a cup of freshly brewed oolong tea.
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No-Bake Chocolate Ganache Opera Cake

By Chef Linda

Special Equipment: 14 1/2-inch by 4 1/2-inch non-stick tart pan with removable bottom or substitute an 8-inch square baking pan. Food processor.

Opera cake is a French cake made with layers of almond sponge cake soaked in coffee syrup, layered with ganache and coffee French buttercream, and covered in a chocolate glaze. While it's possible to create a scrumptious and entirely vegan version of this sought-after cake, the execution would no doubt require more effort than the average person would be willing to invest. Out of respect and admiration for the vegan dome-shaped opera cake created for the 2020 Golden Globes, I set out to create a decadent, elegant finale to a special meal that was a bit simpler to make but just as tantalizing to eat.

This recipe requires no baking, which cuts down on the time to prepare, and while there are three layers, each one comes together easily with no difficult techniques or hard-to-find ingredients. I used a rectangular tart pan with a removable bottom because I envisioned the beauty of long, elegant, 3-layered bars dusted with cocoa powder. If this particular vessel is not in your kitchen arsenal, the volume equivalent (which I estimated after the fact to be about 5 1/2 cups) would likely work in an 8-inch square pan. If you use the square pan, line it first with parchment paper that overlaps the sides so you can lift it out once it's chilled.

Ignore the fact that there are three layers to make if that intimidates you: Make this recipe anyway. One bite into the crumbly pecan-cocoa crust, the dense marzipan-like center, and the deep-dark, luscious ganache will make you more than glad you did.

Ingredients

Chocolate Ganache
 1 cup canned coconut cream
 10 oz dairy-free semi-sweet or dark bar chocolate (or a combination), roughly chopped
 1 tsp instant coffee granules
Crust/Bottom Layer
 1 ½ cups raw or toasted pecans
 6 pitted dates, roughly chopped
 2 tbsp cocoa powder or raw cacao powder, plus more for dusting/garnishing
 ½ tsp vanilla extract
 Pinch of salt
Middle Layer
 1 ½ cups almond flour
 3 tbsp maple syrup
 2 tbsp creamy almond butter
 2 tbsp melted coconut oil (refined or unrefined)
 ¼ tsp almond extract
 ¼ tsp salt

Directions

MAKE THE CHOCOLATE GANACHE. Empty the coconut cream into a small pot. Place it over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate and instant coffee granules. Let sit for a few minutes then stir well as the chocolate melts. Set aside to cool.

MAKE THE CRUST/BOTTOM LAYER. Place the pecans in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely ground. Add dates, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt and pulse again, until the mixture is fully combined and stays together when pressed together.

MAKE THE MIDDLE LAYER. Mix together in a medium bowl all of the ingredients for the middle layer. The result should be a damp, thick, crumbly paste.

ASSEMBLE THE CAKE. Transfer the crust/bottom layer mixture from the food processor to a 14-inch by 4 1/2-inch rectangular tart pan. Use your fingers first, then the bottom of a metal measuring cup or glass to gently but firmly press the mixture into an even layer. Next, arrange small clumps of the middle/almond layer over the crust. Use damp fingers to gently smooth and press the mixture into an even layer that covers the crust. Finally, stir the ganache then carefully pour it on top and use a small offset spatula or knife to smooth and even it out. Place the tart pan in the refrigerator and chill for several hours or overnight. To serve, remove the bottom of the tart pan and place on a flat surface. Use a sharp knife to cut bars or squares. Wipe in between each cut to keep the cuts clean. Serve immediately, dusted with cocoa powder. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to a week.

No-Bake Chocolate Ganache Opera Cake

No-Bake Chocolate Ganache Opera Cake

DifficultyModerate
YIELDS
Makes 1 (14 1/2-inch by 4 1/2-inch) tart, serves 8

no-bake opera cake
INGREDIENTS

Chocolate Ganache
 1 cup canned coconut cream
 10 oz dairy-free semi-sweet or dark bar chocolate (or a combination), roughly chopped
 1 tsp instant coffee granules
Crust/Bottom Layer
 1 ½ cups raw or toasted pecans
 6 pitted dates, roughly chopped
 2 tbsp cocoa powder or raw cacao powder, plus more for dusting/garnishing
 ½ tsp vanilla extract
 Pinch of salt
Middle Layer
 1 ½ cups almond flour
 3 tbsp maple syrup
 2 tbsp creamy almond butter
 2 tbsp melted coconut oil (refined or unrefined)
 ¼ tsp almond extract
 ¼ tsp salt

DIRECTIONS

MAKE THE CHOCOLATE GANACHE. Empty the coconut cream into a small pot. Place it over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate and instant coffee granules. Let sit for a few minutes then stir well as the chocolate melts. Set aside to cool.

MAKE THE CRUST/BOTTOM LAYER. Place the pecans in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely ground. Add dates, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt and pulse again, until the mixture is fully combined and stays together when pressed together.

MAKE THE MIDDLE LAYER. Mix together in a medium bowl all of the ingredients for the middle layer. The result should be a damp, thick, crumbly paste.

ASSEMBLE THE CAKE. Transfer the crust/bottom layer mixture from the food processor to a 14-inch by 4 1/2-inch rectangular tart pan. Use your fingers first, then the bottom of a metal measuring cup or glass to gently but firmly press the mixture into an even layer. Next, arrange small clumps of the middle/almond layer over the crust. Use damp fingers to gently smooth and press the mixture into an even layer that covers the crust. Finally, stir the ganache then carefully pour it on top and use a small offset spatula or knife to smooth and even it out. Place the tart pan in the refrigerator and chill for several hours or overnight. To serve, remove the bottom of the tart pan and place on a flat surface. Use a sharp knife to cut bars or squares. Wipe in between each cut to keep the cuts clean. Serve immediately, dusted with cocoa powder. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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