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ISO wigs: REC: Julia Child's Queen of Sheba (French chocolate almond cake)

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Joined: Dec 14, 2005


Posted to Thread #1105 at 7:54 pm on Mar 12, 2006

(This was requested at post 1032)

From Julia Child's THE WAY TO COOK. She published several versions, but this was her last. It uses two kinds of chocolate, which really makes a difference, and has an optional chocolate leaf decoration. The only trick is to underbake it so the center stays soft, like mousse. I make it constantly, so I'll add some notes as I go:

For an 8" cake, 1 1/2 inches high, but rich enough to serve 8 easily.

3 oz sweet baking chocolate (i.e. Bakers' German, see notes at the end)
1 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 Tbs. strong coffee

4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp.
1/2 cup sugar
3 egg yolks

3 egg whites (a scant 1/2 cup) at room temp.
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
A pinch of salt
2 Tbs. sugar

1/3 cup blanched almonds pulverized in a
processor with 2 Tbs. sugar
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1/2 cup plain bleached cake flour (scooped
and leveled) in a sifter set on wax paper

Butter an 8" round cake pan with 1 1/2" to 2" sides. Put a round of parchment or wax paper in the pan and butter the paper. Dust with flour.

Pulverize the almonds and measure the flour. Preheat the oven to 325* with the rack in the lower middle.

Combine the 2 chocolates and the coffee in a covered saucepan. Bring a 1/2 inch of water to simmer in a skillet. Remove from heat and set the chocolate pan in the hot water. It will melt in 5-10 minutes. Whisk smooth. Keep tepid.

Cream the butter in a mixer. When soft and fluffy, add the 1/2 cup sugar and beat 1 minute, then beat in the egg yolks.

With clean bowl and beaters whip the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar and salt and whip to soft peaks. Add 2 Tbs. sugar, increase speed and whip to stiff peaks.

Mix the chocolate into the butter mixture. Mix in the almonds and almond extract.

Stir 1/4 of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it. Pile the rest on top of the batter and fold them in gently, sprinkling in the flour as you go. Fold just until everything is incorporated. Spread into the prepared pan and tilt it up the sides, then put in the preheated oven.

Bake about 25 minutes, or until it has puffed and a toothpick inserted near the edge of the pan comes out clean. The center, however, should move slightly when the pan is gently shaken.

Remove to a rack and let cool 15 minutes. Unmold onto the rack (I put a piece of parchment on the the rack. Otherwise, the gooey center might ooze through.) and let cool completely, about 2 hours, before storing or icing.

Invert onto a platter or cake round. You can cover and refrigerate for several days.

To freeze: The unfrosted cake freezes beautifully. Flip it onto a foil-covered cake round and wrap in plastic, then slip into a resealabel plastic bag. (I usually make 4 of these at a time and freeze 2 or 3.)

(Don't bother cleaning the chocolate pan if you're making frosting the same day)

2 oz. sweet chocolate
1 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 1/2 Tbs. rum
A pinch of salt
3 oz. (6 Tbs.) unsalted butter, room temp.

Melt the chocolates with the rum as before. When smooth and glistening beat in the salt, then beat in the butter a tablespoon at a time. Remove from the hot water and beat over cold water until firm enough to spread. Frost the top and sides of the cake.

(I seldom do this. It's really gilding the lily, but it's very pretty. Make the leaves in advance because they must go into a still-soft icing.)

2 oz. sweet chocolate
1 oz unsweetened chocolate
Cocoa powder in a fine sieve

Melt the chocolates and spread 1/16" thin on wax paper or a SLIPAT. Chill until set. Break the chocolate into large irregular shapes. With two spatulas, so as not to leave fingerprints, arrange on top of the cake in an overlapping pattern. Dust with cocoa.

Serve at room temp. If you've successfully underbaked the cake it may be difficult to slice. Use a knife dipped in hot water and wiped clean, or you may want to cut it while chilled and let the slices come to room temp.

I like to serve it with a little creme anglaise (custard sauce) and fresh raspberries.

Bon Appetit!

[ABOUT THE CHOCOLATE: the photos show Julia using Baker's German sweet chocolate, and I used that for years, but at $2.99 for a little green 4-oz. box, it's kind of a ripoff. Besides, 4 cakes call for 5 boxes and my supermarket doesn't always have that many. At Josh's suggestion I subbed good bittersweet eating chocolate for the sweet, (Trader Joe's Pound Plus) which is better AND cheaper. It works fine for the cake without adjusting the sugar. For the frosting, I add a scant tsp. sugar per ounce of bittersweet to compensate, adding it to the rum and heating to dissolve before melting the chocolate.

In the past I tried subbing bitterweet or semisweet chocolate for BOTH chocolates. That's what Julia's earlier recipes call for but the effect just isn't the same. Try the combination!]

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