Maida Heatter's Book of Great Desserts
by Maida Heatter, Toni Evins, Maryam Mohit (Editor), Jason Epstein (Editor)
"Jan Smeterlin, the eminent pianist, picked up this recipe on a concert tour in Austria. He loves to cook, and when he baked this to serve to the Queen Mother of England, she asked for the recipe and then served it frequently at her royal parties. If there could be only one cake in the whole world, this would be my choice."
12 portions


6 ounces sweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely cut or broken 6 ounces butter
3/4 cup sugar 6 eggs, separated
6 ounces (1 1/4 cups) almonds, finely ground 1/8 teaspoon salt
Adjust rack to one-third up from the bottom of the oven. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9x21/2 or 3 inch spring-form pan and line the bottom with wax paper or baking pan liner paper. Butter the paper and dust all over the bottom and sides lightly with fine, dry bread crumbs.
Melt chocolate in the top of a small double boiler over hot water on low heat. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
In the small bowl of an electric mixer cream the butter. Add sugar and beat at moderately high speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Add yolks one at a time, beating until each addition is thoroughly incorporated.
Beat in the chocolate and then, on lowest speed gradually beat in the almonds, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary to keep mixture smooth. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer beat the salt and the whites until they hold a definite shape, or are stiff but not dry. Stir a large spoonful of the whites into the chocolate and then, in three additions, fold in the balance. Turn into the pan. If necessary, level top by rotating pan briskly from side to side.
Bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 50 minutes. Total baking time is 1 hour and 10 minutes. Do not over bake. Cake should remain soft and moist in the center.
Wet and slightly ring out a folded towel and place it on a smooth surface. Remove spring-form from oven and place it directly on the wet towel. Let stand for 20 minutes. Then remove sides of the spring-form. Place a rack over the cake and carefully invert. Remove bottom of the form and paper lining. Cover with another rack and invert again to cool right side up. The cake will be about 1 3/4 inches high. If the top is uneven, cut it level with a long thin knife.
When he cake is completely cool, place four strips of wax paper around the edges of the cake plate. Gently transfer the cake to the plate, bottom up. Handle with care. Chilling the cake will make it easier to handle, but then it must be brought to room temperature when it is iced. If the cake is cold when it is iced, the icing will be dull.

Icing for Queen Mother's Cake

1/2 cup heavy cream 2 teaspoons instant coffee
8 ounces sweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely cut or broken.
Scald the cream in a medium sized heavy saucepan over moderate heat until it begins to form small bubbles around the edge or a skin on top. Still over heat, add instant coffee and stir briskly with a small wire wisk until dissolved. Add chocolate. After 1 minute remove from heat and stir with wire wisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Transfer to a small bowl or place the bottom of the saucepan in cold water to stop the cooking.
Let the mixture stand at room temperature for 15 minutes or more, stirring occasionally until it reaches room temperature. Stir (do not beat) and pour all over the top of the cake. Use a long narrow spatula to smooth the top, letting a bit of the icing run down the sides. Use a small metal spatula to smooth the sides. After about 5 minutes remove the was paper strips, pulling each one out by a narrow end before the icing hardens.


  1. The cake may rise and crack unevenly during baking, It is OK. It will level almost completely while cooling.
  2. If you have a turntable or a Lazy Susan, use it when icing the cake.