I know, I know, I know…the rate of these posts have slowed down to approximate how frequently I clean my house, mow my lawn, watch a movie….
It’s not like I haven’t desired to write. It’s just that I’ve hungered for other ventures more. Preparing for two weekly radio shows, contributing to a local newspaper here, running a handful of professional seminars and a crazy travel schedule (Crete! Verona, Italy! England and London all in three weeks!) have consumed my energy.
Plus, time with friends….old and new and those that are emerging. Lucky for us, we all make quality moments a priority. Moments with wine (Prosecco, Ripasso, Amarone!) and yummy eats (chickpea mango rice salad, homemade flax crackers) increase pleasure factor. Sometimes, “breaking bread” together feels like church. Coming together to confess, to receive forgiveness, to strive for a better life…it makes the gathering not just “social time” but “spiritual time.”
I made a cake last year for a friend’s birthday, and a year later, it continues to receive accolades: “remember that cake?”…well, it’s spring again and we’re again coming together with food and wine to celebrate connections.
I went through a spell of Julia Child Mania….and this cake is a rendition of her Queen of Sheba Cake…almond chocolate. The biblical Queen of Sheba didn’t leave the house without a lavish getup (carrying a few tons of gold, jewels and exotic spices). I can barely get out of the house with my ID card and two matching socks. I love Julia…and she loves this cake, so doing an easy calculation, I love this cake: “Let’s go into the kitchen! We’re going to make the best chocolate cake you ever put in your mouth!”
I took out the flour in my version and used flax meal instead…I also halfed the sugar and used a 4 ounce Ritter Dark Chocolate Bar instead…but the rest of her recipe, especially the technique, ends up producing the best chocolate cake I’ve tasted.
If you’d like to bake this cake with Julia, you can find “The French Chef: Queen Of Sheba Cake” It’s season five, episode three.)
Reine de Saba (“Queen of Sheba” Cake)
This chocolate cake is meant to be under-baked, so the center stays creamy. It is covered with chocolate-butter icing and decorated with almonds.
Slightly adapted from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child
For an 8-inch cake (6 to 8 servings)
- 2/3 CUP (4 OUNCES) SEMISWEET CHOCOLATE CHIPS
- 2 TABLESPOONS DARK RUM OR BREWED COFFEE
- 1/4 POUND (1 STICK) BUTTER, ROOM TEMPERATURE
- 1/3 CUP PLUS 2 TABLESPOON GRANULATED SUGAR, DIVIDED
- 3 EGGS, SEPARATED
- PINCH OF SALT
- 1/2 CUP ALMOND MEAL
- 1/4 TEASPOON ALMOND EXTRACT
- 1/2 CUP FLAX MEAL
- GARNISH: ALMONDS
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour an 8-inch round cake pan.
- Break the chocolate bar into small pieces, cover with coffee in a small pan, 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.
- Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until pale yellow and fluffy.
- Beat in the egg yolks until well blended.
- Using clean beaters and a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Add sugar, and beat until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
- With a rubber spatula, blend the melted chocolate into the butter mixture.
- Stir in the almond meal and almond extract.
- Stir in one-fourth of the beaten egg whites to lighten the batter.
- Using a rubber spatula, fold in one-third of the remaining egg whites. (Slice through the egg whites to the bottom of the bowl, and lift some of the batter up and over your egg whites, being careful not to deflate them.)
- Sift one third of the flax meal over the batter, and continue folding.
- Alternately fold in the remaining egg whites and flour.
- Transfer batter to the cake pan. Push the batter up its rim with a rubber spatula.
- Bake until the cake has puffed but the center still moves slightly if the pan is shaken, about 20 to 23 minutes. (It will be cracked on top.)
- Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
- Run a knife around the edge of the pan, and turn the cake out onto a rack. Let it cool for 1 to 2 hours before icing.
ENJOY! I am off to spend less time here, and more time THERE