Chocolate Lover's Torte

1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup butter, softened
3 eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk
2/3 cup finely ground almonds
3 tbs sugar
Smooth and Glossy Chocolate Chip Glaze
Sweetened whipped cream (optional)

Heat oven to 350F. Generously grease and flour 2 heart-shaped or round pans, 9xl-1/2 inches. In small saucepan melt 1/4 cup butter. Remove from heat; stir in cocoa. In large mixer bowl combine 1 cup sugar and 2/3 cup butter; beat until creamy. Beat in chocolate mixture, egg yolks, vanilla and almond extracts. Gradually add flour, salt and milk; beat until well blended. Stir in ground almonds. In small mixer bowl beat egg whites until foamy; gradually add 3 tbs sugar and beat just until soft peaks form. Gently fold into chocolate mixture. Divide batter evenly between cake pans. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. (Cake will settle slightly.) Invert onto wire rack; cool completely. Prepare glaze. Place one cake layer on serving plate; spoon on halt of glaze. Top with second layer. Spread top and sides with remaining glaze. Cool until glaze is set. Garnish as desired.

Smooth and Glossy Chocolate Chip Glaze:
In small saucepan combine 3 tablespoons sugar and 1/4 cup water. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat; stir in 1 cup small semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract. Whisk or beat with spoon until well blended. Use immediately.

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Cajun Country -- New Iberia, Louisiana