Queen of Sheba

The other day I attempted one of Julia Child’s signature desserts from Mastering the Art of French Cooking (MTAOFC) – Reine de Saba. Or at it is referred to in Julia’s The Way to Cook – Queen of Sheba cake.

I’m not doing cakes right now, much to HH’s shagrin, but CUPcakes as I get ready for The Twelve Days of Cupcakes this Christmas. So off I go to make Queen of Sheba Cupcakes.

Since I followed the recipe in MTAOFC, I had read through it a few times with MTAOFC arrived at the Diner (what a day!) Then I read it again during the summer, refreshing my memory on my next recipe from MTAOFC. Then again a few weeks ago when I was compiling the list of cupcakes to try for The Twelve Days. Then last week when I was putting together the grocery list. And finally two more times, very carefully, yesterday as I pulled ingredients from the cupboard, got my equipment ready, put on my apron, getting ready to begin.

Julia writes her recipes a little different from most others, she has the ingredients and equipment in bold on the left 1/3 of the page, and the instructions for those pieces and parts on the right 2/3 of the page. So it takes a little getting used to (hence, all the reviewing.)

I start by shaving the chocolate and melting it with 2 tbsp of dark rum in a double boiler,

then creaming the softened butter and granulated sugar in one of my favorite bowls – my large yellow Pyrex mixing bowl from Donna.

Separating yolks and whites;
pulverizing almonds in the blender;
beating egg whites in the counter-top mixer and…

Julia Slow Down! You are going too fast! There is just too much going on at once in so many bowls! Remember, I like “Dinner in a Bowl,” you know, one bowl meals?! This is a lot.

Okay, deep breath, and…

Add chocolate mixture to butter/sugar mixture; stir in almonds and almond extract. IMMEIATELY stir in ¼ egg whites. Delicately fold in 1/3 remaining whites, the sift 1/3 flour folding – Oops! Wrong kind of flour, need cake flour not regular flour. Alternate RAPIDLY (more of that “hurry up” thing!) with more egg whites and more flour until all incorporated.

I know this last sequence did not look like it was supposed to, but that was I to do! I was going as fast as I could and Julia was STILL saying “hurry!”

That's a little better.

Then the part where Julia turned over in her grave, instead of a cake pan, I put the batter in paper cupcake holders. Oh, well. I’m never going to be Julia, I can only be Holly of Holly’s Diner, and this will have to do.

I filled the cupcake holders just ½ ways, baked at 350º for 12 minutes (the cake called for 25). The center is supposed to be “molteny” (I told HH this; he looked at me funny and said “what’s molteny?”) You know, volcano-y, you bit in and the center may ooze out – yummy!

I took them out, let them cool. Not molteny, but moist and very delicious.

Thank you, Julia. Success!


  1. I saw you yesterday, why are you not sharing????? You can't just rely on HH for taste. I have discerning taste, which is important if you are considering something for the Twelve Days.

  2. You are so right! My mistake! I was trying to leave a "treat" for HH for this weekend, although it looks like they will not last that long.

    I promise when (soon) I make them again, the Queen of Sheba will travel your way!