Opera Cake for Oscar Night

After many Academy Award themed posts, we are finally at the last entry for 2012. Dallas wanted to know when the guy for the party is coming over so we could all eat cake. We had to explain that Oscar isn’t really a man, just an award! I promised special recipes for today and I have all the dirty dishes in the kitchen to prove I am about to deliver.

I have a stack of cookbooks I need to pass on, I have never used them in the past six years, so out they go. As I was sorting, I came across a beautiful book I had forgotten all about. Gourmet magazine now has an online magazine, but the print version has gone the way of the typewriter. Luckily, I bought the 20th anniversary “best of” edition, A Year of Celebrations.

There are gorgeous photos and loads of complicated recipes in this book. I come from the (Disney) Ratatouille school of thought, I think anyone can cook. So, I decided to take a stab at a cake straight out of the chapter called, “Reinventing Gigi, A Cinematic Dinner.” That just screams Oscar night, doesn’t it? There is no way I could have made this cake without the help of my husband. He cleared the boys out for a couple hours, which was totally necessary.

This cake took complete focus, lots of dishes and no shortcuts. It took well over two hours, but was totally worth it. This is a special day! I joked with Mr. Movie Fuel that today should be our anniversary, as it was movies that really brought the two of us together.

Most of Gourmet’s recipes can be found at epicurious.com, including today’s dessert. Opera cake is often called a French Tiramasu. It’s a spongy almond cake, which soaks up espresso in between layers of coffee buttercream and chocolate ganache. This was a lot like making a gĂ©noise cakewhich is an Italian sponge cake I learned to make at a class with my fun, cake-baking cousin, Shayna.

The keys to making this type of cake, concentration and patience. That’s it!

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The recipe is serious when it says to take sugar off the stove at 234 degrees!
Layer One.
My imperfect, yet delicious first attempt at this cake!

**If you want to know what this cake is really supposed to look like, just Google it. It’s really meant to be made by culinary students, professional bakers and French chicks.**

Black Cherry Vanilla Champagne

I posted a homemade soda recipe in the ongoing (and coming back this Tuesday), Roadtrip Series. Making a champagne cocktail without buying three different kinds of spirits is the same concept.

I boiled and then reduced black cherry juice with a teaspoon of vanilla extract. If I would have had a vanilla bean on hand, I would have used one instead. As you may notice in the photo, I don’t even have champagne glasses at home, so I tend to just make do! I remember getting  champagne flutes for our wedding, they must be up in my parent’s attic. (That was a reminder for me, sorry).

Before pouring the reduced juice, I loaded my glass with a small handful of frozen cranberries. I used a basic extra dry champagne, which is my preference, but you could use any kind you like.

I hope you enjoyed our fun Academy Award buildup and enjoy the show!

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