My Co-Worker Went to Paris and All I Got Was a Cake She Baked Herself!

I had every intention of picking up a little edible gift to bring back to the folks at my office before I left Paris. I saved my shopping until the last day of our honeymoon, but I knew that I had plenty of time because our return flight didn't leave until mid-afternoon. Plus, I didn't have far to go to shop. Our hotel in Paris had a chocolate bar in the lobby (a very dangerous thing -- the bar offered a very large selection of macarons that you could pick out and have charged to your room!) and was directly next door to a L'Epicerie Fine, a well-stocked gourmet food store. The night before we were leaving -- a Monday -- I happened to look at our flight schedule and realized that we actually had a mid-morning flight, which meant we would have to leave for the airport before any of the shops opened the next day. Most stores in Paris are closed on Mondays, so I wasn't able to purchase anything that evening. The duty free shopping selections at the airport were pretty pathetic, so I arrived home empty handed.

I decided it was a good opportunity to try the Reine de Saba (Queen of Sheba) cake that was featured in the August 2009 issue of Bon Appetit, in an article featuring a menu of recipes from the Julia Child classic, Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume One. It's amazing how trendy Julia Child has become of late, since the release of the movie Julie & Julia. Coincidentally, even the Smithsonian Museum of American History as been blogging about Julia Child and her recipes (including this entry on the Reine de Saba cake), although they are celebrating the addition of Julia Child's copper pots to her kitchen at the Smithsonian.

The cake batter is not difficult to assemble. The ingredients include semisweet chocolate, coffee or rum, unsalted butter, sugar, eggs, ground almonds, almond extract, and cake flour. The frosting is made from semisweet chocolate, coffee or rum, and unsalted butter.

I used extra bitter chocolate instead of semisweet because it's what I had on hand. Also, I made the cake and frosting with espresso instead of coffee because it only takes a minute and a press of a button to brew espresso with Tom's Nespresso Cube. As a result, the finished product was not very sweet and the coffee flavor was very strong. The almond component was barely detectable. The cake was dense and moist, almost brownie-like. This wasn't a bad cake by any means, but it also wasn't all that interesting. I love Julia Child as much as the next person, but I'm not such a huge fan of this recipe.

Recipe: "Reine de Saba cake" from Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Volume One, by Julia Child. [For some reason I could not find this recipe on the or websites.]


Karen said…
That was DELICIOUS!!! My favorite flavors all melded together. Thank you!!!