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Published: Tuesday, 2/19/2002

Chocolate Lovers' Triple Chocolate Torte

1 1/2 cups plus 6 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa or European-style cocoa

6 eggs, separated

2 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup finely chopped almonds

3 tablespoons amaretto or 1 teaspoon almond extract

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Chocolate Mousse Filling (recipe follows)

Ganache Glaze (recipe follows)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease three 9-inch round baking pans; line bottoms with wax paper. Grease paper.

Place butter in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at High 1 minute or until melted; stir in cocoa until smooth.

In large bowl, lightly beat egg yolks; add sugar and beat until blended. Stir in chocolate mixture; stir in flour, almonds, liqueur or almond extract, and vanilla until blended. In separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff; gradually fold into chocolate mixture. Pour into prepared pans.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes; invert onto wire rack. Cool completely.

Prepare Chocolate Mousse Filling; spread half of mousse on top of each of 2 cake layers, leaving 1 layer plain. Cover; refrigerate until filling is firm. Prepare Ganache Glaze. On serving plate, stack layers, ending with plain layer. Spread glaze on top, allowing to drip down sides. Cover; refrigerate until firm. Serve cold. Cover; refrigerate leftover cake.

Yield: 10 to 12 servings

Chocolate Mousse Filling

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

2 tablespoons cold water

1/4 cup boiling water

2/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup cocoa or European-style cocoa

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups cold whipping cream

Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in small bowl; stir and let stand 1 minute to soften. Add boiling water; stir until gelatin is completely dissolved (mixture must be clear). In small cold mixer bowl, stir together sugar and cocoa; add whipping cream and vanilla. Beat until stiff peaks form; pour in gelatin mixture. Beat until well blended.

Ganache Glaze

1/3 cup whipping cream

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Place whipping cream and semisweet chocolate chips in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave 30 seconds to 1 minute or until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth when stirred with wire whisk; cool slightly.

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