Reine de Saba: Chocolate and Almond Cake
As adapted from Julia Child’s (and Simone Beck & Louisette Bertholle) Mastering the Art of French Cooking
Last week I went to see the movie Julie and Julia. I was so excited for it open that I made my boyfriend promise to take me to see it opening day. See, I’m somewhat of a food nerd, not only do I love to bake and cook, but I also love to read about food. I had read both of the books that were adapted into the movie: Julie and Julia by Julie Powell and My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud’Homme. I loved them both!
After seeing the movie, and going on an hour long hunt for a French restaurant open at 10 p.m. on a Sunday night, I knew my next post must be a Julia Child recipe! In the movie there is an adorable scene where Julie and her husband are stuffing their face’s with Julia’s chocolate cake recipe. I tweaked the original recipe just slightly. It was amazing, light and airy with the perfect frosting. The cake itself is prepared in 3 stages, but overall it’s not too complicated and the outcome is worth it! In the words of Julia Child… Bon Appetit!
Start by gathering all of the ingredients.
Place 4 oz. of semisweet baking chocolate and 2 tablespoons of prepared coffee in a pan. Put the chocolate and coffee on top of another pan filled with simmering water, as a double boiler.
Allow the mixture to melt completely.
Next separate three eggs. I find it easiest to do this with three bowls: one to initially separate the eggs in, and then to place the yolk and egg’s in different bowls. This can save you a lot of time if you have a bad egg and the yolk breaks in with the white. * If there is any yolk in the with the whites they will not whip to a stiff peak *
In a mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment cream one stick of softened butter with 2/3 cup sugar until the mixture is pale yellow and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Beat in the three egg yolks until well blended.
Place the butter/sugar/egg mixture in another large bowl. Clean the mixing bowl very well, if there is any fat left in the bowl the egg whites will not whip properly * I prefer to use scalding hot water and soap, if I still feel like there is grease in the bowl, I will use some vinegar to clean completely * With the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment beat the three egg whites and pinch of salt until soft peaks form.
Then sprinkle in one tablespoon sugar and beat mixture until stiff peaks form.
A stiff peak is exactly what it sounds like. * Place your (clean) finger in the mixture and if a peak is formed on the tip of your finger they are stiff, if the peak falls, you need to continue whipping *
With a rubber spatula, blend the melted chocolate into the butter/sugar mixture, then stir in 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract.
Immediately stir in a quarter 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 1/2 cup cake flour and continue folding. Alternate rapidly with more egg whites and more flour until all of the whipped egg whites and flour are incorporated.
Place the batter into a butter and floured 9 inch cake pan. Bake at 350 degree F oven for about 25 minutes. The cake is done when it has puffed, and when a cake tester/toothpick comes out clean.
Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then reverse onto rack. * I like the score the edge with a sharp knife, but the cake should come out easily if your properly buttered ad floured the baking pan * Allow it to cool for an hour or two. It must be thoroughly cold to be iced. * I like to place my cake on plate with parchment paper under it so I don’t get icing on the plate. The I remove parchment after icing *
For the icing: Place 2 ounces of semisweet chocolate and 2 tablespoons coffee in mixing bowl, place bowl over simmering water (again, a double boiler) and allow it to melt completely.
Transfer the bowl to mixer fitted with paddle attachment and beat in 5-6 tablespoons of softened butter * one tablespoon at a time * until perfectly smooth.
Remove from the electric mixer and place the coffee and chocolate over iced water. Beat it by hand with a whisk until the icing is cooled and spreading consistency is reached. Using spatula, ice the cake.
I decorated the sides of the cake with slivered almonds.
Formula for Julia Child’s Chocolate Cake (adapted by Papery & Cakery)
For the cake:
4 ounces or squares semisweet chocolate, melted
2 tablespoons coffee
1/4 pound *1 stick softened butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
3 egg whites
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup cake flour, sifted
For the icing:
2 ounces semisweet baking chocolate
2 tablespoons coffee
5-6 tablespoons butter, softened