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A few weeks ago as I was flipping channels I came across the movie Julie and Julia from 2009. Being a foodie, this movie is made for me. I won’t go into details about the movie here because later in the fall I’m going to do another installment of my Dinner and a Movie feature. You’ll just have to wait and see which delicious Julia Child dish I decide to prepare. After the movie, I decided to get out my copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. As you can see from the photo below, it’s old. It’s from the 1967 printing and the price stamped on the inside cover is $10.00. I’m pretty sure they’re more than that now. I have no idea where it came from or how it came to be in my possession, but I’m sure glad I have it now.

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Truth be told, I’m not a huge fan of chocolate cake. I find they can be a bit dry sometimes. I promise, that is not the case with this rich, dense wonderful cake. It’s dense, but not heavy and the icing will make you lick your fingers clean. It’s exactly what you would expect from Julia Child herself.

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I’m not going to sugar-coat it. There are a lot of steps to this recipe. Since this was the first time I made this particular recipe, I decided to follow the instructions to the letter. Next time I’ll probably consolidate a few of the steps.

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Julia Child’s Chocolate Almond Cake with Chocolate Icing (Reine De Saba avec Glaçage Au Chocolat)

  • 4 oz semisweet chocolate
  • 2 Tble rum or coffee
  • 4 oz butter (1 stick), softened
  • 2/3 cup + 1 Tble granulated sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup pulverized almonds
  • 1/4  tsp almond extract
  • 3/4 cup sifted cake flour

Butter and flour a 8-inch round cake pan. Melt the chocolate over almost simmering water (see notes). Mix rum or coffee into melted chocolate. 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 in 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 prepared cake pan, pushing the batter to its rim with a rubber spatula. Bake on middle rack of preheated oven for about 25 minutes (see notes).  Cake is done when it has puffed, and 2½-3 inches around the circumference are set so that a needle (or toothpick) 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.

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Chocolate Icing (Glaçage Au Chocolat) See notes before preparing.

  • 1 oz semisweet chocolate
  • 1 Tble rum or coffee
  • 3 Tble unsalted butter, cold

Prepare a small saucepan (or bowl) over not-quite-simmering water. Stir the chocolate and rum or coffee in the saucepan over the hot water until chocolate has melted into a very smooth cream. Remove saucepan from hot water and beat the butter int the chocolate, one tablespoon at a time. Prepare a bowl of ice water large enough for the bottom of the bowl or saucepan to fit in. Beat the butter and chocolate mixture over the ice bath until mixture is cool and of spreading consistency. At once spread it over your cake with an off-set spatula.

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Notes:

  • When melting the chocolate for the cake I used the microwave instead of the double boiler method as directed by the book. In a glass bowl, microwave chocolate for 20 seconds. Stir. Microwave in 15 second intervals until it has melted thoroughly, stirring well after each heating.
  • The eggs should be at room temperature, however it’s easier to separate them when they are cold. Separate eggs whites and yolks into separate bowls. Let sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours until they are warmed.
  • Check the cake at 20-22 minutes to see if it is done. I baked mine for 21 minutes and it was slightly overdone. However, my oven gets screaming hot.
  • Double the icing recipe. No, really. Double it. You’ll thank me later. If you have any left over, spread it on your toast in the morning.
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