Posted by: njbrown | January 25, 2010

Reine de Saba and vegan chocolate cupcakes

January 25, 2010

Reine de Saba (Queen of Sheba cake)

I decided to make the Reine de Saba while waiting to go to make vegan cupcakes with my daughter.  Not to my complete surprise, Julia’s recipe in that  episode of The French Chef was not the same as the recipe in The Way to Cook.  The Way to Cook has less flour, incorporating it is done differently, the kind of chocolate called for is different, etc.  I usually don’t have trouble melting chocolate, but today I did, although adding a bit of hot water (as per Julia’s tips) remedied the problem.

For some reason, I lost track of time, and when I checked (at 23 minutes when Julia called for 25), the cake was baked all the way through.  I felt sick.

When it came to making the icing, I thought it couldn’t be rocket science – melted chocolate, some rum and some softened butter.  This chocolate melted well, I’d had the butter softened for some time, and it looked like smooth sailing.  However, when I started spreading the lovely icing on the cake, tiny bits of butter showed.  I managed to scrape off the icing and beat it again, but my confidence was lessening by the minute.  (Regular readers will remember that George has been predicting a cooking disaster.)  The icing was lovely to work with, but when we went to put the cake on the serving plate, some ran down the sides onto the plate, looking far from professional.  I put it back on the rack, and it is now residing in the refrigerator firming up.  George has reminded me that Julia had many failures, and that helped a bit.

Later –

After about half an hour in the refrigerator, I had George use an offset spatula to release the cake from the cooling rack and transfer it to the serving plate.  Offset spatulas are wonderful kitchen tools, as I learned in pastry class so many years ago.  With no small amount of dread, I took a bite.  Surprisingly, and to my great relief, the Reine de Saba is quite good even though it should have baked about 5 minutes less in order to have the soft centre.  It is chocolaty, with a pronounced almond flavor, and a delightful texture.  Although Julia recommended the use of blanched almonds for decoration in Mastering and The French Chef, in The Way to Cook she showed it decorated with broken sheets of chocolate.  I have always found blanched almonds to look anemic, so used unblanched to decorate mine.

The vegan cupcakes turned out to be excellent.  Apple sauce is used to substitute for eggs, but there is no apple flavor.  I feel so much better knowing my daughter can enjoy a lovely chocolate dessert.  (The recipe can be used for a cake as well as cupcakes.)

Vegan Dark Chocolate Cupcakes With Frosting

Recipe #285660 | 30 min | 10 min prep

By: danakscully64
Feb 10, 2008

This recipe is fantastic and the cupcakes turn out very moist because of the applesauce. My entire family said this was the best vegan food I’ve ever made for them! Make sure you’re using trans fat free margarine like Nucoa or Smart Balance Light from the tubs and vegan sugar products. This recipe can easily be cut in half as well.

SERVES 30, 30 cupcakes



2 cups boiling water
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup margarine, softened
2 1/4 cups white sugar
3/4 cup applesauce
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


1/4 cup margarine, melted
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup soy-milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar


1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line muffin tin(s) with paper liners.

2 In medium bowl, pour boiling water over cocoa, and whisk until smooth. Let mixture cool. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.

3 In a large bowl, cream margarine and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the applesauce, then stir in vanilla. Add the flour mixture alternately with the cocoa mixture. Pour mixture into prepared muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. (If making a cake instead of cupcakes, use 3- 9-inch pans, coated with non-stick spray.).

4 Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes (or 25-30 mins for a cake). Allow to cool.

5 In a large bowl, beat margarine and cocoa together until combined. Add soy milk and vanilla; beat until smooth. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until desired consistency is achieved. Adjust with more soy milk or confectioners’ sugar if necessary. Frost cupcakes once they are completely cooled.

All in all, a satisfying day of baking.  Back to my day job tomorrow –



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