I have made more Reine de Saba's than I can remember. I use a recipe from a generic French cookbook. However, I discovered just the other day it is basically the same as the famous Julia Child recipe; remember, Julie makes Julia's Reine de Saba recipe in the movie? Nonetheless, the key to this cake is fine ingredients. There aren't a ton of ingredients required, so you want to use the best chocolate and butter and nuts you can afford. I typically use Callebaut semisweet chocolate for this.
2/3 cup whole blanched almonds, lightly toasted
2/3 cup superfine sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
5 ounces fine chocolate, melted but cool
3 eggs, separated
1 1/2 tsp. organic almond flavor
3/4 cup heavy cream
8 ounces fine semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
chopped toasted almonds
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Butter a 8-9" spring form cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment or a parchment liner then lightly dust the entire inside with flour.
Pulverize the almonds with 2 Tbsp. of the sugar in a food processor until very fine. Turn out into a small bowl. Sift over the flour and stir until well combined. Set aside.
Using a handheld mixer, whip the butter until fluffy in a medium bowl. Add half the remaining sugar and continue whipping for 1-2 minutes. Then, gradually beat in the melted but mostly cooled chocolate. Beat in the yolks, one by one, completely incorporating one before adding another. Beat in the almond flavor.
In a stand mixer, whip the whites until soft peaks form. Add the remaining sugar and whip until stiff peaks form.
Gently fold in 1/4 of the whites into the butter and chocolate mixture to lighten it. Add half the almond and flour mixture and fold. Fold in another 1/4 of the whites then the other 1/2 of the dry ingredients. Finish by gently folding in the remaining half of the whites.
Turn into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes until a cake tester inserted 2" from the edge comes out clean. The center may still be quite moist, which is fine.
After baking, remove from the oven to a wire rack. Let rest for 15 minutes then remove the side of the spring form pan. Let rest on base until completely cool. Turn out onto an 8 inch cake board and remove the base of the pan and the paper.
Make the ganache glaze by bringing the cream to the boiling point then pouring over the chopped chocolate in a medium size glass bowl. Let rest for a couple minutes then begin gently stirring until all the chocolate has melted and combined with the cream. Let cool for 5 minutes. Whisk in the butter in 1 Tbsp knobs. Fully incorporate one knob of butter before adding the next.
Once the ganache is cool enough that it thoroughly coats the back of a spoon but isn't firm enough to mold, pour about 2/3 of the ganache over the cake. Allow it to thoroughly cover the top and run over the edges to coat the sides. You may want to tilt the cake to make this happen. Use a small spatula to make sure the sides have been covered. Next, add the chopped nuts to the side of the cake while the ganache is still wet. This can be done with a spoon or by sliding the nuts down a bench scraper onto the sides, my preferred and effective method
You should still have about 1/4 cup of ganache left in your bowl. Prepare a pastry bag with a 1, 2, or 3 tip and write on your cake. Traditionally, in France, the name of the cake is written, such as Reine de Saba or Opera. You can write whatever you wish, though, such as birthday or holiday greetings.
It is best served at room temperature but can be stored, airtight, in the refrigerator for up to three days.