WTF Is An Opera Cake? (And Why You Should Care)

You may have heard of (or even tasted!) an Opera Cake. A lot of us haven’t, so when brewmaster Peter Kiley said he was working on an imperial milk stout (AKA a pastry stout) reminiscent of an Opera Cake, most of us here at Monday Night were like…

WTF is an Opera Cake?

Come to find out: it’s an (incredibly delicious) sponge cake originating in France, that delicately balances one of the world’s best flavor combinations — nuts, chocolate and espresso. Think of it as the French’s answer to Tiramisu, but with more chocolate and no marscapone cheese. (Although, the French cake may have preceded Tiramisu — the Opera Cake’s history is as fabled as Peter Kiley’s mane.)

Mmmmm… Opera Cake ….

As we learned more about what goes into baking the classic cake, it began to make sense why this dessert was the inspiration for MNB’s first in its series of pastry stouts: Fistful of Cake.

A proper Opera Cake is a harmonious composition of satiating proportions — incredulously delicate layers of almond sponge cake (known as Joconde in French) are doused in a concentrated coffee syrup, sandwiched between perfectly biting espresso cream and topped with chocolate ganache and glaze. What results is a crescendo effect of flavor that sounds Jeff Bezos-rich, but is actually more of a palatable “your-friend-who-listens-to-Dave-Ramsey”-rich.

That’s where Fistful of Cake comes in.

Fistful of Cake..resplendent with spring flowers. (photo by Lyric Lewin)

Our brewers took a decadent imperial milk stout base and layered in vanilla beans, followed by coffee. Sipping on Fistful of Cake is akin to snacking on the French pastry — there are undeniable notes of vanilla and coffee, but they’re layered just so the roasted sweetness of the underlying beer shines through. The silky, nuttiness of Fistful of Cake’s milk stout is what remains on the palate and allows its adjuncts to come out to play, much like the bitter and creamy elements of the Opera Cake depend on the consistency of the sponge layers to create the most soothing of flavor bombs.

As you can see, brewing a beer (or baking a cake) with layers is no small feat — and we want you to take a load off, so we did it for you.

Fistful of Cake will debut on Friday, March 8 at 4pm in our West Midtown taproom. Starting March 11, Fistful of Cake will be available in Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama. Can artwork features local artist Sam Markus.

Now, you can sound extra fancy when you tell your friends your sampled an Opera Cake Stout this weekend, and you’ve got dessert for that dinner party with your in-laws. Voilà!