Julia Child. I have never met her obviously, but I feel like if I ever did her and I would of been best of friends. I could picture us in a little house baking and laughing over tea and pastries. We'd roll out dough, or braise beef. I feel like she would get me. Cooking is a passion we both shared, and unlike painting, or writing..it's art that is made as quickly as it's eaten. It's there and then it's gone. But, I think it probably is just as nice as a painting..it's a joyous thing even if it's fleeting.
It kind of goes without saying that I like all things French, Chocolate, and Julia Child. When asked to make a dessert for a recent family event, I did a little thinking and decided to make Julia Child's "Reine de Saba" cake. A delicious, fudgey little cake that's infused with coffee and made with ground almonds. Coffee and chocolate? I couldn't think of anything richer. And I needed it.
"Reine de Saba" mean Queen of Sheba in French. It's said that this cake is the first French cake that Julia ever had and that she made it on her birthday every year. If it's Julia's favorite, it's bound to be amazing.
While making this cake, I have found that it really isn't simple. It's a lot of steps and a lot of time but it's worth it.
It has a different consistency then regular cake. Since it's made with very little flour, its really almost like fudge in the middle. It's also made with espresso or coffee, so the chocolate flavor is amplified in richness to extremes I've never tasted. Let's just say, it's a party in your mouth. A party you want to be alone for.
4 ounces of semi sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons of dark coffee
1/2 cup butter at room temp
3 egg yolks
3 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
1/3 cup of almonds that has been ground in a food processor
almond slivers ( for decoration- optional)
1/2 cup cake flour
2 ounces of semi sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons of hot coffee
6 tablespoons of butter
Alright. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and butter and flour a cake pan. Add parchment paper to the bottom of the pan.
In a saucepan on low heat, add water. Add a bowl above the water and add your chocolate and coffee until melted and blended together.
Cream your butter and sugar together until fluffy. Then add your egg yolks and blend until combined.
Remove to a separate bowl. Wash VERY WELL and DRY VERY WELL your mixer and beater. Add your egg whites and a pinch of salt and beat until you have stiff peaks. Add a bit of cream of tarter if they peaks aren't stiff enough.
Add your chocolate to the yolk mixture. Fold it in. Add the ground almonds and almond extract.
Divide the egg yolks into four parts, and fold in 1/2 of the egg whites into the yolk/chocolate mixture, very carefully. You don't want to deflate the egg whites. At this point, add 1/3 of your flour into the mixture, then the other 1/4 of egg whites, another 1/3 of flour, another 1/4 of egg whites and then the last 1/3 of flour until combined and fluffy.
Batters ready! Add to the cake pan (or pans!) and bake for 25 minutes.
To check for doneness, the edges should be crispy like a regular cake but when you stick a toothpick in the middle, it should still come out clean but the middle should be able to "move" a little when you nudge the pan. Remember, it's supposed to be slightly underdone in the middle.
Let the cakes cool completely then remove from pans and set aside.
Now for the icing.
Melt the chocolate in the same way as above. Add the coffee.
Take a larger bowl or pan and fill with ice water.
Cut up the butter into tablespoons, you will end up with six slices. Add a slice one at a time to the melted chocolate, melting the butter into it. Do this until all the butter has been incorporated.
Now time for an ice bath!
Take your bowl holding the butter and chocolate and set it inside the ice water pan. Stir the butter and chocolate until it begins to thicken and looks like frosting and is spreadable.
Ice the cake, add the almond designs (however you like) and enjoy!