Reine de Saba Cupcakes, how deliciously French

 Continuing on the French theme {after the Madeleine baking I did in Paris} these chocolate and almond treats are cupcake versions of Reine De Saba cake from Julia Child’s classic work Mastering The Art of French Cooking, with Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle. They are decadently chocolatey with a ground almond texture and an almond back note flavour, they are topped with luscious glaçage au chocolate {chocolate butter icing}. I was in need of inspiration for a simple {ish} bake that I could do on a sunny, hot afternoon with ingredients I had in. We are currently house sitting in south Warwickshire and my friend, whose house it is, had just had this book and it’s sequel delivered. I flicked through the pages and came upon the recipe for the cake and thought, huh wonder if I can cupcake this?

I made a few changes to the recipe, most notably that I swapped the plain flour for self raising flour, it was all I had! I think this helped the batter to be more cupcakey though, they rose and peaked. I’m not sure they would have done this with plain flour. I also added sugar to the Glaçage au chocolate topping to make it less bitter and more cupcake friendly. It was such a lovely day, I did the constructing and mixing out in the garden

After returning from Paris, we spent a week in London staying with friends. We visited a few art galleries, went along to see the Olympic Rings hanging off Tower Bridge, went to the theatre to watch Chris’s gorgeous cousin in a play and spent a day surrounded by nature at the London Wetland Centre. The Olympic Rings on the bridge looked awesome, I’m so glad we managed to get to see them, before we know it the Olympics will be over and everything will get back to normal. It was interesting being in London so close to the opening ceremony, there was a sense of impending doom. Concerns for public transport, the roads, the influx of people, pickpockets, life to some extent will have to adjust for the two and a bit weeks of the games. On the flip side, there was also a sense of excitement. The bunting was up, cafes and restaurants had Olympic themed dishes, the Olympic Flame was on it’s way after it’s 70 day trip round the British Isles.

Reine de Saba Cupcakes

oven 180 C / gas 4

muffin pan lined with paper cases, makes 9 cakes.

  • 100 g plain chocolate, broken into small pieces
  • 100 g golden caster sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 100 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 free range eggs, separated
  • pinch salt
  • 50 g ground almonds
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 50 g self raising flour

Firstly, melt the chocolate either in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water or carefully in a microwave. I blast it for a minute on high {800 w}, give it a stir then check it every 15 secs until it has almost melted then remove from the microwave and stir until the last solid bits melt in. Set aside to cool a bit.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and beat until well mixed.

Place the egg whites into a clean, grease free bowl with the salt and beat to the soft peaks stage. Sprinkle over a tablespoon of caster sugar and continue beating until you get stiff peaks.

Now add the melted chocolate to the butter/sugar/eggs mixture and, as Julia directs, use a rubber spatula to beat it in. Stir in the almonds and the almond extract.

Sift in a quarter of the flour, fold in then add a quarter of the egg whites and fold that in. Continue until all the flour and eggs are used up. Divide into the paper cases, fill them approximately 3/4s full. You should get nine cakes from this mixture.

Bake for 12 minutes, check after ten. The trick is not to over cook these as they need to be slightly under done. Insert a cake tester into one, it should come out oily. It’s not the end of the world if they cook through, it just won’t be as moist and ‘creamy’ as Julia puts it. Leave in the tin for a few minutes then cool completely on a wire rack.

for the glaçage au chocolat

  • 100 g plain chocolate, broken into small pieces
  • 50 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 30 g icing sugar

Melt the chocolate as above.

Add the butter by beating it in a spoonful at a time.

Now sift in the icing sugar and beat in. Try to get the mixture as smooth and glossy as possible, mine could have done with a bit more work if I’m honest, but hey- it was a glorious sunny day, I had lazing to do!

Spoon the glaçage over the cakes, it will set a bit. Decorate with plain, flaked or sugared almonds.

14 Responses

  1. Dave says:

    Love your photo of the shard. Great use of b&w making it all look very surreal and sci-fi.

  2. Rachel Logan says:

    These look delicious! I can’t wait to dive further into this book! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Margaret says:

    What a great idea, particularly for a party. I made this as birthday cake for my mother once, but I would have rather made cupcakes.

  4. roo365 says:

    They look so good, I can almost taste them!

  5. Your cupcakes are so cute! I see these at a Baby Shower, birthday party, or Easter! Fun!

  6. they look so elegant and sound delicious!

  7. These look so good–Mastering the Art is my favorite cookbook of all time.