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.
Heat 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
Turn out, peel off wax paper, and turn right side up on racks to finish
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