The Phantom’s Opera Cake: A Tricky Recipe Made Easy

Posted October 26, 2017 by Alison's Wonderland Recipes in Book of the Month Recipes / 2 Comments


I first heard of opera cake almost a year ago, and I’ll never forget how floored I was by the elegant appearance. It’s traditionally a thinly layered torte composed of joconde sponge cake, coffee syrup, coffee buttercream, and chocolate ganache. The delicate, refined style and the rumor that it was created in honor of the Paris Opera House had me transfixed. I knew when I got around to making a Phantom of the Opera menu, this HAD TO BE my dessert.

But truth be told, I was thoroughly daunted by the time and energy required to make such a cake (we’re talking joconde, flavored syrup, buttercream, and two thicknesses of ganache!). I had no idea how I’d manage it will a little baby on the verge of crawling, and I had a feeling a lot of my readers would consider it too much work as well.

I searched online for an easy version and couldn’t find one, so I decided to create my own! I went with a chocolate strawberry theme, in honor of the red, black, and white motif so closely associated with Phantom of the Opera. This recipe uses frozen pound cake from the grocery store, strawberry jam, vanilla buttercream, and chocolate ganache. I made my own buttercream, but you can even use the stuff in the can to save time. So in the end, the only thing you HAVE to make from scratch is the ganache! The final flavors are a delicious combo of sweet buttercream, rich pound cake, sweet-tart jam, and bitter-sweet chocolate. Sooo delicious!


The Phantom’s Opera Cake: An AWR Original Recipe

“One day, tired of waiting for an opportunity, I moved the stone and at once heard an astounding music: the monster was working at his Don Juan Triumphant, with every door in his house wide open. I knew that this was the work of his life. I was careful not to stir and remained prudently in my dark hole.
He stopped playing, for a moment, and began walking about his place, like a madman. And he said aloud, at the top of his voice:
‘It must be finished FIRST! Quite finished!’
This speech was not calculated to reassure me and, when the music recommenced, I closed the stone very softly.”

— The Phantom of the Opera




  • 2 cups (approx. 1 bag) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp whipping cream, separated
  • 1 10.75-oz. frozen all butter pound cake, thawed
  • 1 cup seedless strawberry jam, whisked until smooth
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, separated
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tbsp milk, separated
  • 6 small strawberries


Makes 1 6-inch opera cake, cut into 6 slices



      1. First we’ll start with the ganache. Bring some water to a boil in a small saucepan and remove from heat. Heat the cream in another small saucepan on low heat just until steaming. Add the chocolate to a heat safe bowl and place it on top of the pan that contains the hot water. Pour the steaming cream over the chocolate and allow it to sit for 3 minutes. Whisk until smooth and set aside. Save the pan with the water for later as well!
      2.   Cut the pound cake lengthwise into 3/8-inch thick layers.

        You only need 4 layers, but it makes 5 if you count the top. I discarded that one, since it wasn’t an even thickness throughout because of the domed top. I tried leveling it, but it was hard to get it the same thickness without making it too thin.
      3. NOTE: My cake came packaged in a foil pan. I assembled my cake inside the pan to add structural stability while it set, but if you don’t have one, you can use a standard loaf pan.
      4. Place the bottom cake layer in the bottom of the foil pan (you want to use the bottom layer because we’re going to flip the cake over and use this as the top, and the bottom is sure to be level). Ladle 3 tbsp of strawberry jam on top and spread it out in an even layer right up to the edge.

        Don’t worry if a tiny bit oozes over the edge—we’re going to trim the sides eventually.
      5. If your ganache has started to develop a skin, whisk until it’s smooth again. Scoop three large spoonfuls of ganache on top of the jam and gently spread it out with the back of the spoon as evenly as you can. Try not to push a ton of the strawberry off the cake, but don’t worry if a tiny bit is moved.

        I know it may seem like more is better with chocolate, but be careful not to go overboard with the ganache. It doesn’t adhere to the cake as strongly as the other ingredients, so if it’s too thick the layers on top of it won’t stick. You can see in the final product that my second ganache layer is too thick, and I had some issues with the top layer of cake coming off while I was cutting.
      6. Place the pan in the fridge to set for 10 minutes. While you wait, start your buttercream by beating the softened butter in the bowl of a standing mixer on high speed until smooth. Beat in 1 cup of the powdered sugar until combined. Beat in the vanilla and 1 tbsp milk until combined. Beat in the remainder of the powdered sugar, then the remainder of the milk.
      7. When the first layer has set, place another piece of cake on top. Smooth 3 more tbsp strawberry jam over the top, then spread on about 1/3 cup buttercream over the jam. I found the best way to do this was to place small scoops of the frosting all across the top and gently spread them out with my finger.
      8. Chill for another 10 minutes. Add the next piece of cake and make another jam-ganache layer.
      9. Place the last piece of cake on top and chill for another 10 minutes. Remember that saucepan of water we saved from Step 1? While you wait for the cake to chill, bring the water back to boiling.
      10. Place a wire rack upside down over your pan and, holding the rack in place, overturn the pan onto the rack and remove the pan from the cake (loosen the sides with a butter knife if necessary—sometimes the chilled ganache sticks if some has oozed over the sides). Place the rack with the cake on top of a baking sheet and set aside.
      11. Turn off the heat from the boiling water. Place the heat safe bowl with the ganache on top of the saucepan of water. Pour 2 tbsp cream over the ganache and whisk until smooth. This will turn the ganache into a chocolate glaze.
      12. Pour the glaze over the cake and spread it out with a frosting knife into an even layer.

        It’s ok if a lot spills over the sides—that’s what the baking sheet is for.
      13. Place the cake, wire rack, and baking sheet in the fridge for 30 minutes.
      14. Trim the sides from your cake to reveal the layers within. Cut widthwise into 1-inch wide slices.

        This is what the sides look like when they’re trimmed. I love how distinct the layers are! 🙂
      15. On top of each slice, place a small strawberry on the right. Add the remainder of the buttercream to a piping bag fitted with a small round tip and pipe a design on the left. I piped a few loops, but looking back I wish I’d done a treble clef! 🙂
      16. Serve at the premiere of the Phantom’s very own opera!
    This cake is very rich, so I found one small slice to be plenty. It has great balance of flavors, though: delicate cake, sweet-tart jam, vanilla buttercream, and bittersweet chocolate. The fresh strawberry on top brings it all together! 🙂


    Check out our other cake recipes! 🙂



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2 responses to “The Phantom’s Opera Cake: A Tricky Recipe Made Easy

  1. ladyelasa

    This sounds yummy! I like how you themed it with Phantom of the Opera colors. ^ ^

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