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Reine de Saba (chocolate almond cake, nearly flourless )

Simply Luxurious
Julia Child's famous chocolate almond cake. Make a traditional cake or 4-6 mini ones and delight your guests or just yourself :).
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Resting time (make the icing during this time) 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr 10 mins


  • Round cake pan , 8 inches in diameter and 1 1/2 inches deep
  • 3-quart mixing bowl
  • Wooden spoon or Electric beater or KitchenAid mixer
  • Rubber spatula
  • Cake rack


Cake Batter

  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted (high quality) I used Scharffen Berger gourmet dark chocolate semisweet bars
  • 2 Tbsp rum or coffee I have used both on separate occasions and both are delicious
  • 1/4 lb unsalted butter (softened)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar to be mixed with the butter
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar (to beat into the egg whites)
  • 1/3 cup pulverized almonds (roasted)
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 cup cake flour scooped and leveled, turned into a sifter

Cake Icing

  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate (high quality)
  • 2 Tbsp rum or coffee
  • 5-6 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature



  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Butter and flour the cake pan. Set the chocolate and rum or 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.
  • Cream the butter and 2/3 cup of sugar together for several minutes until they form a pale yellow, fluffy mixture. Beat in the egg yolks until well blended.
  • Beat the egg whites and salt in a separate bowl until soft peaks are formed; sprinkle 1 Tbsp. 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 the almonds, and almond extract. Immediately stir in 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 or into mini cake pans, pushing the batter up to its rim with a rubber spatula. Bake in middle level of preheated oven for about 25 minutes (20 minutes for very small mini cake pans). Cake is done when it has puffed, and 2 1/2 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 a 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.

Butter-Cream Frosting

  • Bring bring the water in a double boiler to boil, or high simmer. Do not add the chocolate and rum until it is boiling.
  • As soon as the water is boiling, add the chocolate and rum and/or coffee. Cover and remove from the heat. Yep, do not leave the chocolate and rum on the stove while it is on. The residual heat will be gentle and still hot enough to melt the chocolate.
  • Let chocolate melt for 5 minutes or so, until perfectly smooth. After five minutes of sitting/melting, you may use a spatula to incorporate.
  • Lift chocolate pan out of the hot water, and beat in the butter a tablespoon at a time.
  • Optional: Beat over the ice and water until chocolate mixture has cooled to spreading consistency. At once spread it over your cake with spatula or knife. (I have poured my icing onto my mini cakes and it stays put well. However, let it cool after pouring so that the almonds (sliced and roasted) remain where you place them :).
  • Use the Chocolate-Butter Icing, and press a design of almonds over the icing.(You’ll notice I did not press the almonds over the top of the icing, however, what I did do was sprinkle a few slivers of almonds on each slice as they were served.  It added just the perfect crunch.