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A long time has passed since my last post but that definitely doesn’t mean that I haven’t baked up anything in that time. I just didn’t feel completely happy with the recipes I’ve been trying out recently. I’ve gone through a number of ‘baking fails’ making me feel disappointed even to the point where I promise myself I will never bake anything again. Seriously. But that feeling lasts for approximately two days or up until I see a picture of a new mouthwatering dessert that makes me forget that promise.

This cake however I ended up liking. Ever since I saw the movie ‘Julie & Julia’ I’ve been wanting to make the cake that is shown in a scene where Julie is decorating the sides with slivered almonds and her husband shoving pieces of it in his mouth. I actually didn’t know what cake it was so I ended up googling it and found out it was called Queen of Sheba Cake or Reine de Saba. Which is basically a chocolate almond torte that uses little or no flour but instead ground almonds. It is covered with a delicious chocolate butter frosting that tastes like chocolate mousse.

Since it’s both mine and my nieces birthday in September, we decided to do a joined birthday party. I was turning 21 and my niece turned 1. I knew I wanted to make something very chocolatey. Even though by the looks of my blog posts it may seems like chocolate is my favorite component when baking, I actually don’t make that many chocolate desserts. It just so happens that the recent cakes/sweets I’ve been pleased with have had chocolate as an ingredient of some sort. Maybe chocolatey desserts are just a lot harder to mess up. I wouldn’t be surprised. I firmly believe that good chocolate can really be the cure for a bad day.

So let’s get to the cake. The one I ended up making wasn’t Julia Child’s exact version. I made hers the night before as well and even though the taste was amazing, I wasn’t happy with the size of it. It turned out too flat and I wanted to make a cake that was a bit taller so I could garnish the sides with the almonds. So I used a Chocolate almond cake that was quit similar to Julia Child’s version but with increased quantities. I also added some hot espresso and rum essence to the cake since that’s what was used in Julia Child’s version. Other than that I adapted the cake recipe from Joy of Baking , A site that has truly never failed. I used The original frosting however but just added a tablespoon of powdered sugar for a little sweetness. The cake itself is very dense, fudgey and almost brownie like. I found it hard to eat it plain by itself but each bite needed to be accompanied with some vanilla ice cream or else the flavor would have been too intense.
Here’s the recipe:

Chocolate Almond Torte with Chocolate Frosting

For the torte
100 g finely ground almonds
4 eggs, separated
200 g good quality bittersweet chocolate, I used Lindt 70%
150 g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
150 g granulated white sugar, divided
pinch of salt
3 tblsp. freshly brewed espresso
1 tsp. rum essence
slivered almonds for decoration

Butter and line a 20cm (8 inch) springform pan with parchment paper. The grease the parchment paper and the sides and dust with some ground almonds. Tap out any excess. Preheat your oven to 190 C°.

In a stainless steel bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water melt your chocolate, butter, coffee and rum essence. Put aside. In a separate bowl place your egg yolks and 100 grams of sugar and beat until pale and fluffy. Beat the melted chocolate into the egg yolk and sugar mixture and gently fold in the ground almonds. In a grease free, preferably steel bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the pinch of salt and beat until soft peaks form. Slowly add the remaining 50 grams of sugar and beat until stiff. Fold in about 1/4th of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Then quickly fold in the remaining egg whites with a rubber spatula.

Pour the mixture into you baking pan and bake for about 40 minutes. The cake will have risen but once you take it out it will start to deflate. Leave it to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then carefully run a knife through the sides of the pan and loosen it. Let the cake cool completely before frosting it.

Chocolate frosting
120 g good quality dark chocolate
2 tblsp. freshly brewed espresso
1 tsp. rum essence
140 g unsalted butter
1 tblsp. powdered sugar

Melt the chocolate, coffee and rum essence in a bowl placed over a pot of simmering water. Take off heat and whisk in butter tablespoon at a time and powdered sugar until you get a desired frosting consistency. If the frosting is too runny, just let it stand in the fridge for a few minutes.

Assembly of the cake

With a knife or a small offset spatula frost the top and sides of the cake using whichever decoration you prefer. Cover the sides with slivered almonds. The cake tastes best when it’s been kept in the fridge for a couple of hours. Serve it with whipped cream or, as I prefer, vanilla ice cream.

Have a great week!