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I’ve been in the mood for something rich, intense and chocolate. I’ve had this Julia Child recipe for Reine de Saba (chocolate and almond cake) that I’ve been wanting to make, and I wanted to adapt it to be gluten-free. Why? Because I know some people with gluten intolerance. Because it’s Gluten-Free Diet Awareness Month, and… being a food adventurer… I just wanted to!
With me and Mimi (daughter #3) relaxed and on the threshold of a 5 day Thanksgiving vacation, I decided to tackle it. I got out Mastering the Art of French Cooking and plunged in.
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate melted with 2 T rum or strong coffee
1/4 lb., or one stick, softened butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
3 egg whites
pinch of salt
1 T. granulated sugar
1/3 cup pulverized almonds
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1/2 cup rice flour
Butter and flour an 8-inch round cake pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt the chocolate and rum or coffee and either slowly in a double boiler,or at 10-second intervals in the microwave. Watch closely in the microwave – chocolate can burn very easily.
Cream the butter and 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 on the 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, pushing the batter up to its rim with rubber spatula. Bake in middle level of preheated oven for about 25 minutes. 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 the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, and reverse cake on a plate or rack. Allow it to cool for an hour or two, it must be thoroughly cold if it is to be iced.
I have to admit… Mimi and I didn’t wait for the cake to cool. She didn’t want to. I didn’t want to. We were wanting instant gratification. We sliced the cake and ate it warm. This cake *sounds* moist when you cut into it. It’s one of the homliest looking cakes I’ve ever seen. Without any icing or nice presentation, it should be called Ugly Cake. But one bite tells an entirely different story… the beauty lies within. The cake is intensely chocolate, velvety, rich, smooth… almost unctious. If you choose to do icing, I’m including Julia’s chocolate-butter icing recipe. She also recommends pressing a design of almonds over the icing. Maybe I’ll put icing on it next time.
Glacage au Chocolat (Chocolate Icing)
2 ounces (2 squares) semi-sweet baking chocolate
2 T rum or strong coffee
5 to 6 T unsalted butter
Melt the chocolate and rum or coffee and either slowly in a double boiler,or at 10-second intervals in the microwave. Watch closely in the microwave – chocolate can burn very easily. Beat in the butter a tablespoon at a time. Then beat over a bowl with a trace of ice cubes and water to cover them until chocolate mixture has cooled to spreading consistency. At once spread it over your cake with a spatula or knife.