Julia Child’s Chocolate Almond Cake

Julia Child’s Favorite Cake: Chocolate Almond Cake

If you asked a group of cooks what their favorite Julia Child recipe is, I’m sure many would answer with a savory recipe, such as her beloved Beef Bourguignon, which Elise of Simply Recipes describes as “more of an an event than a food.” So true. Or, her famous Potato Leek Soup that she made most every day for her beloved husband Paul.

But. My favorite Julia Child recipe is the recipe that she herself described in the intro to Mastering the Art of French Cooking as her favorite cake. A group of culinary experts list this masterpiece as her Number 3 favorite recipe, but to me it is Number One, hands down. Chocolate Almond Cake is an other-worldly perfection of a dish. It is hard to do justice to this recipe with mere words. It is creamy, yet fluffy at the same time. It is rich, yet light at the same time. It just may be my favorite bite of food. Ever.

So, in tribute to Julia, or “Joooolia” as she would pronounce her name, I am posting this recipe. You’re welcome.

Happy Birthday, Julia Child! I hope you’re baking a celestial cake today!

And THANK YOU for so many things, not the least of which is sharing your favorite cake recipe with the world: Chocolate Almond Cake, which I plan to eat every single day when I am in heaven, where everyone is their ideal weight, no matter how many calories they consume!

Julia Child – The French Chef

Julia Child was one of a kind. She was adventurous. She was boisterous. She was large. But what I love about Julia, who would be 100 years old on August 15, 2012, is that she was unashamed to experiment, to make mistakes, even to fail.

I remember sitting on the sofa next to my mom in the early ’70’s and wondering what in the world she was laughing at. My mom would laugh out loud when Julia – as The French Chef would cook. I was perplexed when I was a kid. But not now.

Now I watch old episodes of The French Chef and I, too, laugh out loud. I get it now. Julia spills her omlettes on the counter as she flips them. She scrapes potato peels onto the floor. She says things like “Well, it really doesn’t look very appetizing here, does it?” God Bless You, Julia Child!

If you haven’t seen Julia making a “hamburger” on David Letterman, you MUST drop whatever you are doing and watch this STAT. I promise it is one of the most hilarious clips of  Julia Child on television. Again, You’re welcome!

— posted by Donna

As proof of this recipe’s greatness, Exhibit A:  The Naptime Chef once made this cake for breakfast!

Check out other tributes:

Lindsey of Cafe Johnsonia does Julia’s Floating Islands
lue Kitchen’s homage to Julia
Fresh made her brown sugar chocolate mousse cake
Barbara made Julia’s iconic beef dish look stunning!

Here’s the Chocolate Almond Cake recipe directly from Mastering the Art of French Cooking:

Reine de Saba avec Glaçage au Chocolat

(Chocolate and Almond Cake with Chocolate Icing)

This extremely good chocolate cake is baked so that its center remains slightly underdone; overcooked, the cake loses its special creamy quality. It is covered with a chocolate-butter icing, and decorated with almonds. Because of its creamy center it needs no filling. It can be made by starting out with a beating of egg yolks and sugar, then proceeding with the rest of the ingredients. But because the chocolate and the almonds make a batter so stiff it is difficult to fold in the egg whites, we have chosen another method, that of creaming together the butter and sugar, and then incorporating the remaining items.


For the Cake:

4 ounces or squares semisweet chocolate melted with 2 Tb rum or coffee
1/4 lb. or 1 stick softened butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
3 egg whites
Pinch of salt
1 Tb granulated sugar
2/3 cup pulverized almonds
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup cake flour (scooped and leveled) turned into a sifter

For the Icing:

2 ounces (2 squares) semisweet baking chocolate
2 Tb rum or coffee
5 to 6 Tb unsalted butter


A round cake pan 8 inches in diameter and 1-1/2 inches deep
A 3-quart mixing bowl
A wooden spoon or an electric beater
A rubber spatula
A cake rack
A small covered pan
A larger pan of almost simmering water
A wooden spoon
A bowl with a tray of ice cubes and water to cover them
A small flexible-blade metal spatula or a table knife


For the Cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).

Butter and flour the cake pan. Set the chocolate and rum or coffee in a small pan, cover, and place (off heat) in a larger pan of almost simmering water; let melt while you proceed with the recipe. Measure out the rest of the ingredients. Cream the butter and sugar together for several minutes until they form a pale yellow, fluffy mixture.

Beat in the egg yolks until well blended.

Beat the egg whites and salt in a separate bowl until soft peaks are formed; sprinkle on the sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed.

With a rubber spatula, blend the melted chocolate into the butter and sugar mixture, then stir in almonds, and almond extract. Immediately stir one fourth of the beaten egg whites to lighten the batter. Delicately fold in a third of the remaining whites and when partially blended, sift on one third of the flour and continue folding. Alternate rapidly with more egg whites and more flour until all egg whites and flour are incorporated.

Turn the batter into the cake pan, pushing the batter up to its rim with a rubber spatula. Bake in middle level of preheated oven for about 25 minutes. Cake is done when it has puffed, and 2-1/2 to 3 inches around the circumference are set so that a needle plunged into that area comes out clean; the center should move slightly if the pan is shaken, and a needle comes out oily.

Allow cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run knife around the edge of the pan, and reverse cake on the rack. Allow it to cool for an hour or two; it must be thoroughly cold if it is to be iced.

For the Icing:

Place the chocolate and rum or coffee in the small pan, cover, and set in the larger pan of almost simmering water. Remove pans from heat and let chocolate melt for 5 minutes or so, until perfectly smooth. Lift chocolate pan out of the hot water, and beat in the butter a tablespoon at a time. Then beat over the ice and water until chocolate mixture has cooled to spreading consistency. At once spread it over your cake with spatula or knife, and press a design of almonds over the icing.

Yield: For an 8-inch cake serving 6 to 8 people



  1. Melissa says

    I don’t understand this part: pushing the batter up to its rim with a rubber spatula.

    So I fill the cake pan and then drag batter up to the rim of the pan? Por quoi?

      • Marcia says

        This is a really late reply, but the reason you drag the batter to the edge and up is to create a seal with the pan that will not allow steam to escape and to help wih rising. Basically you just want the batter to make contact with the side of the pan instead of curl up over itself like it usually does when you’ve got a floured pan. Hope that helps!

    • says

      Cake flour is a specific low-protein flour that makes baked goods light and fluffy. I used Pillsbury Soft as Silk cake flour. You can also use regular all purose flour, but your cake won’t be as light.

    • says

      Almond flour might work, except one problem is that it does not have the same ability to “absorb” liquid as does cake flour. Please come back and let us know if you do try this!


  1. […] I’ve made this cake over and over since then, and the recipe has never failed me. I use fancy dark chocolate (it makes a significant difference) and a shot of espresso, and I follow the instructions to a T. If you don’t have the cookbook (which you obviously should), here’s a blog post with the full recipe. […]

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