There has been a lot of hype going around regarding the Julie and Julia movie, especially and of course, amongst food bloggers, and let me tell you: It is devastatingly brilliant! I waited far too long to go see it, for reasons outside of my control and much to my chagrin, but again: It is delicious!
I am, err, want to be a writer, so on many levels I can totally relate to Julie (although did anyone else notice the horrendous omitting of punctuation during the typing scenes?). In fact, during most of the movie I literally found myself crying... relating inexplicably to both Julie and Julia, their stories, and their connection with food and discovering themselves. I found myself exclaiming, more than once, and tugging at Gabriel whispering, 'that's sooo me!'
It's 'sooo me' to start a food blog in a kitchen the size of my thumb, with a oven that decides randomly what temperature to idle at, and without a camera.
It's 'sooo me' to scoop up spilled batter or dropped vegetables, and look around sheepishly to see if anyone is looking, and then disclose the inconsequence of it (oh dear - I shouldn't admit that... well, never when baking for anyone else of course!).
It's 'sooo me' to sprawl out on the kitchen floor exasperated, or shoo Gabriel away blaming him for my failures in the kitchen.
And it's 'sooo me' to wildly devote myself to learning how to master the art of chopping onions, or elatedly scream over a mortar and pestle.
I started this blog in the exact fashion as the pretense of this movie. I started it as an exercise to write on a regular basis without apprehension, as an answer to my constant desperate whine: "I'm not a writer! A writer writes!" As a result, on occasion, I feel less intimidated about claiming to be a writer, but more importantly 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 - anything, me, my surroundings and the people in my life. These endeavors are euphoric and harmonizing; they can, potentially, release magic - just as Julia came alive at the seams whilst metamorphosing egg whites.
So... in honor of Julia:
Reine de Saba (Chocolate and Almond Cake)
In honor of Julia I made everything the old fashioned way.
3oz of semi-sweet chocolate1oz sweet chocolate (or any 4oz mixture you prefer)2 tablespoons of coffee, rum, or vanilla (I used vanilla)Place chocolate and liquid in a small bowl in a saucepan filled ¼ with water (until water reaches ½ way up the sides of the bowlBring water to a simmer, and remove from heatAllow chocolate to melt, and stir until smoothSet aside
*Julia's Tip: If you overheat the chocolate you will lose the essence of the cake - so do not overheat, i.e. no microwaves!
8 tablespoons butter
½ cup sugar
Beat until pale, and fluffy, then add three egg yolks, one at a time
In another clean mixing bowls, 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
Throw another pinch of salt over your shoulder
Continue to beat until stiff peaks form
Let rest (but only a moment)
Add melted chocolate to sugar egg mixture and whisk until incorporated*Julia's Tip: Overcooked, the cake loses its special creamy quality - cooked perfectly this chocolate cake is baked so that its center remains slightly underdone.
Add ¼ cup almond extract and ⅓ cup crushed almonds
Fold in 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 flour, sift over, fold in
Add remaining ⅓ egg whites
Pour into prepared, greased and floured, round cake pan, 8 x 1 ½ inches
Spread evenly to edges
Bake at 325F°, 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, flip right side up
Let cool completely before frosting
2 oz sweet chocolate
1 oz semi-sweet chocolate
Melt chocolate as indicated above
When melted and smooth, beat six tablespoons of butter into chocolate, one tablespoon at a time
Frosting will be delicate, smooth and nearly runny, but it will spread beautifully and taste incredible
Cover sides of cake with sliced almonds
This cake is, well... 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!" It has that element, and then... remember when Julie makes this very cake and before she has a chance to cut a piece, Eric has already delved in and puckering his lips for the second bite! That is very nearly reminiscent of what happened here in our home, plus a little... similar to when the publisher first makes the boeuf bourguignonne and can't help but allow an admittance of involuntary delightful sounds to escape from her lips. That is this cake.
P.S. I absolutely adored the portrayal of Paul's 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 confident, her companion, her photog, and above all - her lover. Likewise, Eric as well; his proud tenderness and affection for his wife, but mostly how in every food scene his absolute duty to unabashedly gorge on each recipe without reservation.