I would like to bake an Opéra cake for someone who doesn't really appreciate the taste of coffee. Since coffee and chocolate are the two main elements, I am wondering: what flavour could I substitute for coffee in my coffee buttercream? I suppose the qualities I'm looking for are a bit of bitterness, and it should go well with chocolate and orange liquor?

PS: I just noticed that the English wikipedia describes the sponge cake as “soaked with coffee”, but in the way I usually do it it's soaked with Cointreau so I don't need any replacement there.

  • since you are discarding the coffee flavor to accommodate your guest's dislikes, do you know what flavor that guest might enjoy?
    – Cos Callis
    Apr 27, 2012 at 17:20
  • @CosCallis she probably likes loads of things (other than coffee, I mean)… I'm really trying to keep the balance of taste in the original, just because, well, Opéra is so good!
    – F'x
    Apr 27, 2012 at 18:10
  • 1
    Personally, I'd suggest making something else. Substituting a major flavor ingredient seldom works out well.
    – FuzzyChef
    Apr 30, 2012 at 5:04

2 Answers 2


Some sort of nutty flavor perhaps? Hazelnut syrup? I think it should go well with both chocolate and orange. Otherwise I think the cake will be quite delicious even without a substitute, just using plain buttercream.

EDIT: I just noticed that the cake has an almond base. Perhaps a few drops of Amaretto in the buttercream would work. That would play nicely with the almond flavor already there.


I would suggest that either you want to "substitute the coffee" or "keep the original balance" because anything that does the first will not accomplish the latter.

That said, a flavor source that would work well would be Irish Creme.

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