Reine de Saba

Now ya’ll know that I’m not a baker but I’ll put a college try in for holidays and special occasions. Considering our Julia Child theme for my Mom’s birthday party in NC, I thought it would be fun to make the classic Reine de Saba. Reine de Saba means chocolate and almonds – which makes the cake very dense  as it is  made with very little flour. While there were many steps to the process it all came to together very quickly. I thought this was a extremely tasty.  And I have to say – I was pretty proud of my accomplishments!

  • Reine de Saba based on Julia Child’s recipes – from the Kitchn and edited by ModMeals

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
2 tablespoons strong, hot coffee
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
3 egg whites
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup almonds pulverized with 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup flour

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Set the rack to the lower middle level. Butter an 8- by 1 1/2-inch round cake pan, place an 8-inch piece of parchment paper in the bottom, brush with butter and coat the whole pan with flour. Pulverize the sugar and almonds and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the chocolate and the hot coffee. Set aside for a few minutes for the chocolate to melt. (If the chocolate doesn’t melt down completely, place the bowl in a few inches of hot water for a minute or two.) Meanwhile, beat the whites until foaming, add the salt, and continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the 2 tablespoons of sugar and continue beating until shiny peaks form. Don’t make the whites too stiff or they’ll be difficult to incorporate. Set aside while you go on to the next steps but don’t dawdle, as you want to use the whites as soon as possible. Then cream the butter until soft, add the 1/2 cup sugar and beat until fluffy. Then beat in the egg yolks. Stir the warm chocolate into the yolk mixture, then add the almonds and almond extract. Gently stir a dollop of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Add the remaining whites and, alternating with sprinkles of the flour, gently but quickly fold in the whites (I did this by hand with a spatula) . Turn the batter into the prepared pan and spread the batter evenly over the bottom. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges of the cake are set about 3 inches in but the center is still a little soft and shiny. Remove from the oven and place on a rack and cool for 10 minutes, then carefully run a knife around the edges and unmold onto the rack, peeling off the parchment paper.  Let it cool completely.

For the Frosting:
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
2 tablespoons strong, hot coffee
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
pinch of salt
1 cup of slivered almonds

Place the chocolate and the coffee in a bowl, stir, and set aside in a warm place for the chocolate to melt. You may have to place the bowl in a few inches hot water if the chocolate doesn’t melt completely. Stir until smooth.
Whisk the butter, one cube at a time, into the chocolate along with the salt, until all of the butter is incorporated. The mixture may be a bit runny. If so, set it on the counter until it thickens to spreading consistency. Frost the top and sides of the cake and decorate the top with a swirl if you’d like. Picking the cake up in your left hand, press the slivered almonds into the side of the cake with your right hand, tilting the cake slightly so the excess almonds fall off.

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