Julia Child’s Reine de Saba (Chocolate and Almond Cake)
Julia first fell in love with french food when she was on her way to Paris with her husband Paul Child, at the Restaurant La Couronne in Rouen. It’s amazing how one meal can change your life! She started buying food at the local markets and taking classes at the Cordon Bleu. After that, she started teaching french cuisine along with Simone Beck and Louisette Berthole, calling their informal school L’école des Trois Gourmandes (The School of the Three Food Lovers) with whom she wrote the first volume of Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Today, February 11th marks the 50th Anniversary of Julia Child’s famous TV show The French Chef, her television cooking show. This show was produced and broadcast by WGBH, the public television station in Boston, Massachusetts, from 1963 to 1973. It was one of the first cooking shows on television. The French Chef introduced French cooking to the United States. All of the recipes used on The French Chef had originally appeared in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and for the show, Julia chose a set of more domestic recipes so they could be within the reach of a home cook without staff. Sometimes there were occasional accidents that became a popular trademark of Child’s on air presence: used as “teachable moments” to encourage viewers to relax about the task’s demands. One thing was certain, this show made us know the Julia we all love: her fondness for wine; her ornate speech; her staunch defense of the use of butter (with margarine invariably referred to as “that other spread”) and cream; her standard issue “impeccably clean towel”; and her closing line at the end of every show: “Bon appétit!”. In 1966, the show won an Emmy for Achievements In Educational Television.
She has been often our inspiration and because her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking it’s not only a collection of recipes but a technique and guidance masterpiece, we love it! It throughly explains what steps you need to take to prepare a recipe, along your tools needed and detailed explanations for some of the most challenging processes. If you want to get a new cookbook and don’t have this one yet, definitely consider it! A classic for your kitchen.
Reine de Saba
(Chocolate and Almond Cake)
Yield: One 8-inch cake
Recipe by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck’s
Mastering the Art of French Cooking
For the Cake:
4 ounces or squares semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons of rum
4 ounces softened butter
⅔ cup granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
3 egg whites
¼ teaspoon of cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
⅔ cup pulverized almonds or 1 cup of almonds to pulverize
¼ tsp almond extract
For the Glaçae au Chocolat (Chocolate-Butter Icing):
2 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate
2 tablespoons of rum
5 to 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup cake flour (scooped and leveled) turned into a sifter
- Pre-heat oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter and flour the cake pan.
- Set the chocolate and rum in a small pan with a tight cover, and place (off heat) in a larger pan of almost simmering water; let melt while you proceed with the recipe. Measure out the rest of the ingredients.
- Pulverize your almonds in your food processor, about a cup. Add a tablespoon of sugar to avoid the almond oils to lump up.
- Cream the butter and sugar together for several minutes until they form a pale yellow, fluffy mixture.
- Beat in the egg yolks until well blended.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt until soft peaks are formed; sprinkle on the sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed.
- With a rubber spatula, blend the melted chocolate into the butter and sugar mixture, then stir in almonds, and almond extract.
- Immediately stir one-fourth of the beaten egg whites to lighten the batter.
- Delicately fold in a third of the remaining whites and when partially blended, sift on one-third of the flour and continue folding. Alternate rapidly with more egg whites and more flour until all egg whites and flour are incorporated.
- Turn the batter into the cake pan, pushing the batter up to its rim with a rubber spatula. Bake in middle level of preheated oven for about 25 minutes.
- Cake is done when it has puffed, and 2½ to 3 inches around the circumference are set so that a needle plunged into that area comes out clean; the center should move slightly if the pan is shaken, and a needle comes out oily.
- Allow cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run knife around the edge of the pan, and reverse cake on the rack.
- Allow it to cool for an hour or two; it must be thoroughly cold if it is to be iced.
- For the Icing, place the chocolate and rum in the small pan, cover, and set in the larger pan of almost simmering water.
- Remove pans from heat and let chocolate melt for 5 minutes or so, until perfectly smooth.
- Lift chocolate pan out of the hot water, and beat in the butter a tablespoon at a time with the help of a rubber spatula. If the mixture starts to cool off too fast, place the chocolate pan again in hot water and beat in the butter until it fully incorporates.
- Then beat over the ice and water until chocolate mixture has cooled to spreading consistency. This will take about 3 minutes.
- At once spread it over your cake with spatula or knife, and press a design of almonds over the icing.
- You can replace the rum for coffee: 1 tablespoon of instant coffee dissolved in 2 tablespoons of boiling water.
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