Christmas-Comes-But-Once-a-Year Chocolate Cake
Rum Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup rum
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons corn syrup
6 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup superfine sugar
6 tablespoons clarified butter
1/2 cup toasted almonds, chopped
4 vanilla wafers
30 chocolate-covered almonds
Almond Chocolate Mousse
1/2 cup heavy cream
7 teaspoons granulated sugar
8 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
Rum Buttercream Frosting: Heat rum, sugar, and corn syrup in saucepan over low heat, stirring gently, until sugar dissolves. Wash down sides of pan with pastry brush dipped in ice water. Clip candy thermometer to side of pan, raise heat to medium, and boil without stirring until syrup registers 240 degrees F (soft ball stage). Remove syrup from heat and let cool slightly.
In large bowl, beat egg yolks and vanilla extract until mixture is pale and thick and falls in ribbon when you lift beaters. Add hot syrup to yolks by pouring down side of bowl a little at a time, beating in after each addition. Let yolk mixture cool. Add softened butter 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Frosting should be thick and perfectly smooth. Use buttercream as soon as possible, or refrigerate up to three days. When ready to use, bring to room temperature and beat until smooth.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare 2 (9-inch) cake pans by greasing them, lining bottoms with wax paper circle, greasing wax paper, and dusting bottoms and sides with flour.
Mix together flour, cocoa, and salt; set aside. Bring eggs to room temperature. Eggs achieve greater volume if they are warm when you beat them, so combine eggs, vanilla extract and almond extract in large deep bowl placed in shallow bowl of hot tap water. Beat with electric mixer until light and thick and quadrupled in volume. Add sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, beating continuously. Keep beating until mixture is thick and airy, like soft whipped cream, and thick rope of batter falls and sits on top of mixture for a few seconds when you lift beaters. Gently fold in 1/4 flour mixture; repeat with remainder, 1/4 at a time.
Remove 1 cup batter to separate bowl and whisk in clarified butter. Stir in chopped almonds. Return mixture to remaining batter, 1/4 cup at a time, folding in gently but thoroughly. Divide batter equally between prepared pans. Bake 25 to 30 minutes; when cake is done, center will spring back if lightly pressed, and cake will be pulling away from pan sides. Let layers cool in pan on wire racks for 10 minutes, then run knife around each layer. Turn out, peel off wax paper, and turn right side up on racks to finish cooling. When cool, wrap individually in plastic and freeze 1 hour.
Almond Chocolate Mousse: Finely chop chocolate. Scald cream with sugar, stirring to dissolve. Pour hot cream over chopped chocolate and stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool completely.
When cool, whip cream with almond extract just until stiff; do not over beat. Fold whipped cream into chocolate mixture. Use as soon as possible.
Split each cake layer in half horizontally to make a total of four thin layers. Put one layer cut side up on cake plate and tuck strips of wax paper under cake to keep plate neat while you assemble and decorate cake. Spread first layer with 3/4 cup frosting and then with 3/4 cup mousse. Repeat with remaining layers, cut sides down, making a stack that ends with frosting. Use remaining mousse to cover top and sides of cake.
Process vanilla wafers to fine crumbs; sprinkle some over top of cake, then blow some from your palm onto sides of cake. Use generous amount, since first layer of crumbs will darken as crumbs absorb moisture from cake. Press chocolate almonds around top edge to complete decorations. Serve immediately, or put cake in freezer uncovered for 1 hour, until very firm, then cover with plastic wrap and return to freezer until one hour before serving.
Yield: 24 servings.
Per Serving: 1407 Calories; 119g Fat (72.1% calories from fat); 40g Protein; 64g Carbohydrate; 21g Dietary Fiber; 154mg Cholesterol; 216mg Sodium
Exchanges: 2 1/2 Grain (Starch); 4 1/2 Lean Meat; 21 Fat; 1 1/2 Other Carbohydrates
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