In a small saucepan melt butter over moderately low heat and continue to heat until golden brown with a nutlike fragrance. (Bottom of pan will be covered with brown specks.) Cool butter to warm and stir in vanilla. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan, knocking out excess flour. In a food processor finely grind whole almonds with flour, 2/3 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat whites with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt until they hold soft peaks. Add remaining 1/3 cup sugar gradually, beating until meringue just holds stiff peaks. Fold in nut mixture gently but thoroughly. Fold in butter gently but thoroughly (batter will deflate) and spread in pan.
Sprinkle top of batter evenly with sliced almonds and bake torte in middle of oven 35 to 40 minutes, or until it begins to pull away from side of pan and a tester comes out clean. Cool torte in pan on a rack 15 minutes and invert onto rack. Flip torte right side up and cool completely. Torte may be made 1 day ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature. Serve cake with Sour Cherry Sauce.
Sour Cherry Sauce
SOUR CHERRY SAUCE
3 cups sour cherries (about 1 1/2 pounds) 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 cup water 1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
Working over a heavy saucepan pit cherries. In pan bring cherries, sugar and water to a boil. Stir cornstarch mixture and add to sauce, stirring. Simmer sauce 2 minutes and cool to room temperature. Sauce may be made 2 days ahead and chilled, covered. Bring sauce to room temperature before serving.
Yield: Approximately 3 cups
Recipe courtesy of Gourmet Magazine