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2 cup unsalted butter
1 vanilla bean
2 heaping cup almonds, blanched and toasted
2 2/3 cup powdered sugar
2/3 cup flour
12 large egg whites
6 tbsp granulated sugar
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup Almond Butter for filling
Sliced almonds for garnish
Chocolate covered almonds for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the center. Butter two 9 inch spring form or cake pans then fit the bottom of each with a circle of parchment paper and butter that as well.
Slice open the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds with the edge of the knife. Combine the vanilla seeds, empty pod and butter in a small sauce pan then melt it on medium heat. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes until the foam subsides, the butter turns amber brown and it smells nutty. Take it off the heat and set it aside to cool to room temperature.
Combine the toasted almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor and grind it until the almonds are finely ground. Blend in the flour until the mixture is consistent.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment beat the egg whites and granulated sugar until stiff peaks form. Alternate folding the almond mixture and browned butter into the egg whites in thirds until the batter is smooth.
Divide the batter into the two prepared cake pans and bake them for 30 – 40 minutes until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Transfer then to a cooling rack and let them sit for 10 – 15 minutes in their pans. Turn them out of their pans and let them cool completely before frosting.
While the cakes are cooling make the Whipped Ganache Frosting.
Put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set it aside. Combine the cream and butter in a small sauce pan and heat it on medium heat until the butter melts and the cream just reaches a boil. Pour it over the chocolate and let it sit covered for a few minutes before stirring it until it’s smooth.
Let the ganache reach room temperature before whipping it with an electric mixer until it lightens in colour and before light and fluffy. Fill a small pastry bag fitted with a round tip with about a cup of the frosting.
To assemble the cake place the bottom layer on a cake plate. Pipe a circle of frosting around the inside edge of the cake to act as a dam to keep the Almond Butter it. Fill that ring with a generous helping of Almond Butter and place the other cake layer on top. Liberally frost the cake with the rest of the Whipped Chocolate Ganache. Decorate the finished cake with flowers made of chocolate covered almonds and sliced almonds.
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