Saturday, April 13, 2024
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Step by Step Instructions for Perfect Results: Julia Child’s Chocolate Cake

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Julia Child chocolate cake

Originally Posted 2009 | Updated 2021

It probably goes without saying, but one of my favorite movies is Julie & Julia. I saw it immediately when it came out in 2009, and then went on to master as many of Julia Child’s recipes as I could. Just some of my favorites include Beef Bourguignon, Puff Pastry and, of course, the absolutely phenomenal Julia Child chocolate cake: Reine de Saba Cake.

Julia Child’s chocolate cake is essentially a chocolate and almond cake. It is the most complex tasting chocolate cake you’ll ever have, with a depth of flavor that none else can rival. 

inside of julia child chocolate cake

More importantly, however, and what this film captured is the essence of discovering the artist within yourself.

For me, writing and baking both possess the ability to transform. You can transform anything! Yourself, your surroundings and the people in your life. These endeavors are euphoric and harmonizing; they can, potentially, release magic – just as Julia came alive at the seams whilst metamorphosing egg whites.

In honor of Julia:
Reine de Saba

I made everything for my Julia Child chocolate cake the old fashioned way, just as Julia would have, and just as Julia would expect.

outside frosting julia child chocolate cake

How Does This Cake Taste?

Remember at the start of the movie when Julia first arrives in Paris and takes her first bite of fish? Her eyes roll a full 180° and into the back of her head, and she insists that Paul take a bite; all he can say is: “I know! Uh huh, I know! I know!” 

That is this Julia Child chocolate cake.

P.S. Before We Get to The Recipe – Can We Just Talk about Paul For a Quick Second? 

I absolutely adored the portrayal of Paul in this movie! His devotion to Julia is to be cherished; his support unparalleled; his shared rejoicing in her successes and his willingness to be her confidant, her companion, her photog, and above all – her lover. 

We all need a Paul in our life!

Can I Just Use A Microwave to Melt the Chocolate

Technically, yes, but here’s why you shouldn’t. 

When Julia Child created this chocolate cake she discovered that minor iterations during the chocolate melting process drastically changed the outcome of this cake. 

Reine de Saba

It’s vital that you do not overheat the chocolate. According to Julia Child, if you overheat the chocolate you will lose the essence of the cake. 

Essentially, what you want to do is warm the bowl enough to allow the bowl to melt the chocolate — not actually melt the chocolate. 

How to Sift the Flour

In a typical cake recipe, you sift the flour into a bowl or measuring cup and then dump it in the cake. 

Not for Julia Child’s chocolate cake. This one you will sift the flour directly into the bowl. 

Use a spoon to scoop the flour into a measuring cup. Then, pour the flour into a sifter over the bowl of ingredients. Sift the flour directly into the bowl and gently stir. 

Add the flour in increments.

The difference is that the flour is dispersed over the bowl in segments, and not clumped together in a small cup. It makes all the difference! 

Julia Child Reine de Saba

Baking Julia Child’s Chocolate Cake

You actually want to under bake this cake, just ever so slightly. The under bake is the perfect bake. 

If you over cook it, even by just a few minutes, the cake loses its special creamy quality. Watch for that slight wobble when the timer is close to the end. 

Julia Child Chocolate Cake

Reine de Saba

Catherine Olson
Julia Child’s chocolate and almond cake is the most complex tasting chocolate cake you’ll ever have, with a depth of flavor that none else can rival.
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine French
Servings 8 slices


  • 8" Round Cake Pan



  • 3 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 oz. milk chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons coffee, rum, or vanilla I used vanilla
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • pinch salt
  • ¼ tsp almond extract
  • cup crushed almonds
  • ½ cup sifted flour


  • 2 oz. milk chocolate
  • 1 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
  • 6 tablespoons butter



  • Place chocolate and liquid in a bowl to melt over a double broiler
  • Allow chocolate to melt, and stir until smooth
  • Set aside
  • In a separate bowl, beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy
  • Add three egg yolks, one at a time
  • Let rest
  • In another clean separate mixing bowl, with clean and dry beaters, whip egg whites until soft peaks form
  • Add two tablespoons sugar, ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar and a pinch salt to the egg whites
  • Throw another pinch of salt over your shoulder
  • Continue to beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form
  • Let rest for a moment
  • Add melted chocolate to sugar egg yolk mixture and whisk until incorporated
  • Stirl in almond extract and crushed almonds
  • Fold in egg whites and flour alternately
  • Start with ⅓ of egg whites to lighten up batter
  • Add ¼ cup of sifted flour, fold in slowly
  • Fold in another ⅓ egg whites
  • Add remaining ¼ cup of sifted flour
  • Add remaining ⅓ egg whites
  • Pour into prepared 8” round cake pan, greased and floured
  • Gently spread evenly to edges
  • Bake at Fahrenheit 325° for 25 minutes, until cake is puffed but toothpick comes out clean
  • Center of cake should wobbly slightly when pan is tapped
  • Cool for 10 minutes, invert on wire rack, then flip right side up
  • Let cool completely before frosting


  • Melt chocolate in the same manner as for the cake
  • When chocolate is melted and smooth, add 1 tablespoon of butter at a time beating until smooth and fully incorporated
  • Frosting will be delicate, smooth and nearly runny, but it will spread beautifully and taste incredible
  • Cover sides of cake with sliced almonds
Keyword Julia Child Chocolate Cake
Slice of Julia Child's chocolate Cake

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  1. I haven't seen the movie yet. I want to but no one in my family wants to so I'll have to grab a couple of my girl friends and have fun. Your pics of this cake are gorgeous!

  2. Loved the movie as well. Cried throughout the whole thing too. And I love how the hubby rubbed this cake all over his face in the movie. That was awesomeness!!!

  3. I love your post..I am so happy to see someone loved the movie..not just Meryl Streep playing Julia (she WAS amazing). I loved all aspects of it…both lives, both world's of each of them…and the cooking of course! 🙂

    I think I have to try this cake too…

  4. Miss Catherine,
    I saw a magazine in June with an article about Julia and the movie. In it they had printed an article, "Why Julia still matters".
    They included several of her recipes, including this cake.
    Honestly, yours looks better than theirs did. I loved your written words, as well, as the cake. You little writer, you. Thank you

  5. When I first saw the preview I thought of you too. I can't wait to see the movie. This cake looks amazing and it is my goal to attempt it this week. Way to go at accomplishing your goals. You're a wonderful baker, writer, photographer, and just an all around creative artist!!

  6. I need to see this movie. I am embarassed to admit I haven't yet!! But that cake was a-mazing, I hardly got any because my boys were snarffing it down!!

  7. I can't believe i haven't seen this movie yet. Kirk won't see it with me! little bum! anyways. that looks amazing!!!! you are AMAZING! and yes i am SURE that would remind me of you!
    you are awesome!!!
    love you catherine! you are the best!!! !!! XOXXOXOXOXO

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