chocolate sludge

How about something sweet ? This confection, which I’ve known about as long as I’ve known my husband (that would be…19 years or so, yikes), is no longer something I can eat, as it has almonds – but I remember it fondly from our college days (when he made it recently for a work potluck he got roundly scolded for making something his wife couldn’t eat). It’s been handwritten in the back of our old Moosewood Cookbook forever, along with the Sour Cream Coffeecake and the Red Bell Pepper Pesto. I hadn’t realized the story behind the recipe’s name until recently, so I asked him to write a little about it: 

It’s amazing how one rarely questions the things with which one has grown up. Take this dessert. Chocolatey and creamy, it’s almost a mousse, but then there are the ground almonds, giving it a firmer texture and a little bit of gritty crunch before it dissolves. That’s not a mousse; it’s caribou. Or at least that’s what we called it in my family.

Only when I got into cooking and baking in college and begged the recipe from my mother did I discover that it had another name – La Reine de Saba (the Queen of Sheba). Once again, I didn’t question the name. I had suspected that caribou was not the actual name, and La Reine de Saba sounded reasonable.

Except that this dessert isn’t like any of the other versions of La Reine de Saba that I have found. Those versions all have eggs, and most have at least a little bit of flour, yielding a dense, fudgy cakelike product. My family’s version is definitely not fudgy or cakelike. But it is mighty tasty.


Caribou (Reine de Saba)


  • 12 oz chocolate chips
  • 4 oz German sweet chocolate
  • 1 stick unsalted butter

then add:

  • 4 oz ground almonds
  • 2 Tbsp Creme de Cacao, Grand Marnier, Tuaca or other liqueur


Whip 1 cup cream. Fold it into the chocolate mixture. Scrape into a buttered 1 qt casserole and chill 2-3 hours. Cut into squares and serve. Getting the first piece out is always hard – better eat that one.

chocolate & butter



stirring in the almonds


tasting the tuaca

adding cream

folding in the cream


8 thoughts on “caribou

  1. I suspect that chilling and serving this in individual ramekins, to be eaten with a spoon, might be better than trying to cut it into pieces. Unless you do a very thorough job of folding in the whipped cream, at the risk of deflating it, the caribou tends to shatter along the weaker seams of cream (cream seams?), and the melting point is low enough that eating it by hand is a messy proposition.

  2. Yea! I have been meaning to ask Jon for the recipe for the “fudgey, chocolatey, dessert-thing” he brought to the end of the year luncheon. (I had no idea what it was called…all I know is that it took extreme restraint to not lick the pan clean!) I’m on a diet right now as I’m trying to lose a few pounds before heading to Manhattan in a couple weeks…where I will gain it all back! However, the next time I want a splurge, Caribou it is!
    Hope you’re enjoying your summer!

    P.S.- Got any recommendations for NYC eateries?

    1. Jane, we’ve never been to New York, so we’ll be asking you for recommendations when you get back!

  3. Hi Jane and all, JLN’s brother here. If you were travelling through time as well as space, I could give you lots of confident recommendations for NYC restaurants in the mid-1990s. But I’ll do my best with present-day suggestions. These are some places we enjoyed on a recent visit, plus some old favorites that appear to be still thriving (or new places run by favorite chefs). For more ideas, a reasonable and easily browsable online reference is .

    By neighborhood:

    ===== Upper West Side (Lincoln Center Area)
    Blue Ribbon Sushi

    ===== Upper East Side
    Daniel ($$$$, or Café Boulud for less $)
    JoJo (an old favorite of mine)
    Café Sabarsky at the Neue Gallerie (go for coffee and pastries at least, and the Museum is great)

    ===== Soho
    Aurora (had a wonderful meal here recently)
    Blue Ribbon Brasserie / Sushi
    The Mercer Kitchen
    Omen (great Japanese food, takes itself seriously)

    ===== West Village
    Le Gigot
    == Ice cream!
    L’Arte Del Gelato
    GROM Gelato

    ===== East Village
    ==Japanese Ramen places:
    Ippudo NY
    Rai Rai Ken
    Kyo Ya

    If you want to try the famous Magnolia Bakery cupcakes, keep in mind that they have locations in Midtown and the Upper West Side now, with shorter lines than the original W Village location.

  4. Oops, looks like the URL I posted got stripped out (as an anti-spam measure, presumably?). Well, just google NYMAG RESTAURANTS (for New York Magazine’s online restaurant guide).

    Have fun in NYC!

    1. Wow! Thank you. That’s quite a list! I’ll let you know what we try. The gelato seems to be calling my name!
      I really appreciate your quick and thorough response.
      I will check out the NY Mag online guide as well. Can’t wait to go!

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