Oh la la! Do you like layers of a lighter-than-air sponge cake soaked in coffee syrup; chocolate mousse that tastes like what angels must eat in heaven; and a thin layer of chocolate ganache mirror glaze with just a touch of edible gold leaf?!
The you would love this Opera cake or Gâteau Opéra in French.
Nobody can say with certainty when or where (although it is well-known as a French invention) opera cake was first made, but it is composed of layers of sponge cake (known as joconde in French) soaked in coffee syrup, layered with mousse or buttercream and covered with ganache.
The cake was popularized by the French pâtisserie house Dalloyau, but its origin is unclear. One creator-claimant, at la maison Dalloyau in 1955, is Cyriaque Gavillon. He was grandfather to Christelle Bernardé, the current manager of the prestigious French company Dalloyau Bastille, and named by his wife Andrée Gavillon after the Parisian Opéra House Garnier.
Gaston Lenôtre (1920 – 2009) also claimed the honor of inventing the dessert in 1960. However, complicating the mystery is the fact that an advertisement in Le Gaulois in 1899 offered a “gâteau opéra.”
I can tell you this much: when you have tasted this confection, you won’t care who/what/when/where or why this cake was invented. You’ll just be glad you got to try it!