This renowned French housewife classic is completely revised with whole rather than separated eggs, and mixed in the same big bowl you'll use to melt the chocolate! Don’t get out your stand mixer for this one—a hand-held mixer is easier.
How does air get whipped into the batter without separately beaten and folded egg whites? The secret is in the warm (not hot) melted chocolate, cool (not squishy) butter, and right-from-the-fridge cold eggs. Beating butter and cold eggs into warm chocolate cools and thickens the chocolate. Continued beating incorporates even more air—you'll see the batter become lighter and lighter in color as this happens. To make the torte flourless, simply replace the flour with 2 to 3 tablespoons of almond flour. For the best flavor, make the torte at least one day, if not two days ahead. —Alice Medrich
Test Kitchen Notes
For more on the Queen of Sheba Cake, see the full article. —The Editors
(170 grams) dark or bittersweet chocolate with 66%-72% cacao, coarsely chopped
(1 stick/113 grams) unsalted butter, slightly softened but cool, and not super squishy, cut into chunks
(150 grams) sugar
brandy or rum, optional
pure almond extract
(generous) salt (I use fine sea salt)
large cold eggs
(75 grams) almond flour/meal (blanched or not) or 3/4 cup (62 grams) fine almond flour
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375° F (adjust temperature for a convection oven according to instructions with your oven). Grease an 8x3-inch pan with a removable bottom (or springform).
Place the chocolate in a large stainless-steel bowl and set it in an even wider skillet of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is nearly melted—a few pieces should remain. Remove the bowl from the water bath and stir until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth: it should be warm to the touch, not hot.
Add the butter chunks, sugar, brandy (if using), almond extract, and salt, and beat with a hand-held electric mixer at medium speed until the butter pieces are completely melted and the mixture thickens and lightens slightly in color. Beat in the eggs one by one, then beat at high speed for a minute or two, or until the batter is fluffy and lightened in color. Add the almond meal and flour and mix until blended.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it level. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted about 1 1/2 inch from the sides of the pan comes out clean; the center will still be a little gooey.
Set the pan on a rack. Slide a small metal spatula or knife blade around the sides of the cake to separate it from the pan, and so the thin crust that may have formed on top will sink (slightly) with the cake, as it cools. Once cool, the torte may be kept at room temperature, covered or placed in an airtight container, for at least 3 days.
To serve, remove the pan sides and transfer the cake, to a platter. Sift a little powder sugar over the top to highlight the crackled surface. Serve slices with a dollop of whipped cream or pass a bowl of cream separately.
My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on Craftsy.com, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).