Kahlua Coffee Opera Cake

This is the perfect cake for coffee lovers. It is LOADED with amazing coffee flavor! It tastes very similar to tiramisu, but it doesn't have any mascarpone cheese as tiramisu does. Instead, it has french coffee buttercream, which may be one of the best frostings we've ever made. PLUS, this has chocolate ganache, which pairs beautifully with all the coffee flavor. The inspiration for this came from French Opera Cake recipes, but those call for an almond-flavored cake. No thanks, we'll just take extra coffee flavor. So, instead, this cake has coffee sponge cake layers. Coffee sponge cake brushed with kahlua and coffee!

Kahlua Coffee Opera Cake

Servings: 16
Time: 2 hrs


Coffee sponge cake:
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp instant coffee
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Kahlua coffee soak:
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 Tbsp instant coffee
  • 2 Tbsp Mocha Kahlua
Coffee french buttercream:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 4 tsp instant coffee
  • 3 Tbsp boiling water
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups butter, softened
  • 6 oz chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line three 9" cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. Dissolve coffee in water and set aside.
  3. Whisk together dry ingredients.
  4. Beat egg yolks with 1 cup sugar for several minutes until pale and thick.
  5. Add vanilla and coffee. Mix well.
  6. Add dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Set mixture aside.
  7. Beat egg whites with salt until soft peaks form.
  8. Gradually add remaining sugar and beat until incorporated, being careful not to over beat.
  9. Fold egg white mixture into egg yolk mixture, again being careful not to over mix.
  10. Divide batter evenly between three pans.
  11. Bake for 15 minutes. Move to wire racks to cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pans to cool completely.
Kahlua coffee soak:
  1. Pour all ingredients into small saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in kahlua. Set aside to cool completely.
Coffee french buttercream:
  1. Combine coffee and boiling water. Set aside.
  2. Pour water and sugar into small saucepan. Stir to combine, but do not stir further. 
  3. Using a candy thermometer, heat to 240 degrees.
  4. Meanwhile, using whisk attachment, whip egg yolks on high until thick, pale ribbons form.
  5. When sugar mixture reaches 240 degrees, remove from heat. Turn mixer to medium speed and pour sugar mixture in with a slow, continuous stream.
  6. Mix on high for about 10 minutes, until mixing bowl is no longer warm.
  7. Switch to paddle attachment and mix in softened butter until smooth. Pour in coffee mixture and continue to mix until frosting is smooth.
Chocolate ganache:
  1. Combine chocolate chips and heavy cream in microwave safe bowl. Heat in 30-second increments, stirring each time, until chocolate is fully melted and ganache is smooth and shiny. Set aside to cool. (Or, as we described in another blog post, melt it all quickly and easily in a fondue pot!)
Cake assembly:
  1. Place one cake round on cake stand.
  2. Brush on about 1/3 of coffee soak.
  3. Spread about 1/2 cup of ganache on top.
  4. Chill until ganache is firm.
  5. Spread about 1/2 cup of frosting on top of ganache.
  6. Repeat steps one through five with second cake round.
  7. Place third cake round on top and brush on remainder of coffee soak.
  8. Frost cake completely.
  9. Pour ganache on top.
  10. Garnish with coffee beans if desired.
  11. Eat and enjoy!
This cake isn't really difficult, but it does take some time. It's even better after it sits and really soaks up the kahlua and coffee mixture, so it is easily made ahead.

This is the Kahlua we used since it's what we had on hand, but regular Kahlua would be delicious, too. 

Three coffee sponge cakes, ready to go! 

French coffee buttercream - on our shortlist of best frostings ever. 

 Brush each cake layer with your Kahlua coffee mixture

Then spread a thin layer of ganache and let chill before spreading your frosting layer. 

Ready to serve! 



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