Reine de Saba- the Queen of chocolate cakes!

This fabulous cake, made during half-term in Devon for a family birthday party, brought back memories of the some of the very best chocolate cakes I have eaten in my life: One, dark and gooey, Reine de Saba was made for a beach picnic by a dear friend from Martinique : we ate it with our fingers on a tropical shade-free beach and it tasted like paradise… Another best ever number I’ve reviewed before is the one my grand-mother  makes for us and that my brother and I still like to eat with breakfast!

This Julia Child recipe comes via the lovely site “a Cook some day” and is the very best Reine de Saba you can get, with its distinctive rum flavour and masses of almond taste which I simply adore.

Happy Birthday my lovelies! To my “twins” of 12 and 14
A book and Devon sunshine break
Cocoa beans in Kew’s Tropical gardens

Ingredients list: (this is for a large birthday cake- halve this if you want the original proportions!)
Dark chocolate (52%)180g
Extra bitter chocolate (64% or more)60g
Dark rum 4Tbsp
Soft butter 240g
Sugar 200g plus one Tbsp
Eggs 6
Pinch of salt
Ground almond 160g
Bitter almond oil 3 drops or half a capful (do not overuse as it is quite potent)
Flour 130g

Preheat the oven to 180°.
Melt the chocolate with the rum on very low heat and reserve.
Beat the butter with an electric whisk and add the sugar until pale and fluffy.
Add the egg yolks and reserve the whites separately. Add the melted chocolate to the eggs yolks and butter mix.
Whisk the whites until they make soft peaks (a pinch of bicarbonate of soda or salt may help), then add a spoonful of sugar.
Blend together both mixes without breaking the whites too briskly and add the almond powder and the almond flavouring– be restrained because the flavouring is essential but must not overpower the cocoa.
Add the flour in spoonfuls and mix well with a wooden spatula.
Line and grease your tin and put in the oven on the middle shelf for 30 to 45 min. The secret with chocolate is not to over-bake so the middle remains soft and gooey. But if you don’t bake enough it will be heavy and a bit sickening… So, watching is key!

For the topping:
Ingredients list:
Dark chocolate (54% to 64%)60g
Rum 2 Tbsp
Roasted almond flakes – optional
On low heat, melt the chocolate with the rum. Add the butter and mix away from the flame. Wait until the cake has cooled and the cream has set a little before spreading it all over. You can decorate the sides with the flakes but I prefer not to.

Leave in a cool place before sharing.

The lovely golden cocoa beans in the picture were shot last week-end in Kew Gardens where I took the family to admire the magnificent orchids and anthuriums displays of the exhibition Tropical Extravaganza. It provided a lovely sunday excursion despite the (tropical) downpour and you can catch it until the 6 th of March if you hurry…

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