I’m conscious that I have quite a few recipes for chocolate cake on this blog, but I suppose one more can’t hurt …
This recipe was given to me by my French mother-in-law after some pleading on my part. One afternoon, after she had served a procession of five courses at lunch, she brought out this beauty for dessert, a plain chocolate cake which tasted anything but.
This is a flourless chocolate cake which, unlike most which are rich and decadent, is instead light and soft. In comparison to Nigella’s Chocolate Cloud Cake, another flourless chocolate cake which I have previously blogged about, this cake is not so tall, making it somewhat lighter and more appealing as a dessert if lunch or dinner has been quite indulgent. And like most French cakes, this one is served plain with maybe a drizzle of chocolate glaze or simply with whipped cream on the side.
My mother-in-law found the recipe for this cake, called a Reine de Saba, in a French magazine some many years ago. When she sent me the recipe, I instantly recognised the cake as one which Julia Child made on her show, The French Chef. Fans of the wonderful Julia Child can watch the episode here where, back in the olden days, cooking shows had the luxury of devoting an entire episode to just one recipe:
If you are interested in Julia Child’s recipe, the recipe can be found in her book, The French Chef Cookbook.
Watching this video has been a delightful trip down memory lane for me, especially since I have fond recollections of watching Julia Child on TV as a young child, in part because her show often aired before the weekly Shirley Temple movie. I think that, even as a young child, I unconsciously picked up a lot of tips from cooking shows which I used to watch with my mother, such as to start beating egg whites on low speed until they are frothy before turning up the speed to let them increase in volume. Even if I didn’t pick up this tip from Julia Child, I feel reassured watching her do the same.
My favourite part of this video is watching Julia Child lick the cake spatula and saying, “That’s part of the recipe.”
Having compared the recipe below to Julia Child’s, it became obvious to me that there must be many different recipes out there for Queen of Sheba. In particular, Julia Child’s recipe contains flour and the aromatic addition of rum, whereas this recipe contains cornflour for stability and is alcohol-free. Although, you could certainly add a dash of rum, Grand Marnier or even Frangelico to the batter for a more adult affair. If you are also serving children, perhaps the best compromise is to serve a bowl of whipped cream on the side, laced with your favourite liqueur.
If you’re looking for a quick and fuss-free recipe for a crowd-pleasing dessert, this is the one.
Queen of Sheba (Reine de Saba)
Makes 1 cake
To make this a gluten-free cake, make sure that you use gluten-free cornflour. Not all brands of cornflour are gluten-free.
The original recipe calls for fécule which, in France, refers to potato starch. If potato starch is readily available where you live, you could use this in place of cornflour.