To make the sour cream cake: butter and flour an 8 or 9 inch cake pan and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Sift together the cake flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in the egg yolks and the vanilla. In a measuring jug, whisk the sour cream and the milk together until smooth. Add the dry ingredients and the sour cream mixture alternately to the creamed butter mixture, ending with the milk mixture. Fold in the egg whites, then pour into the prepared pan. Bake on the center rack of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes, then unmold onto a plate and continue cooling to room temperature. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to finish the cake.
To make the almond praline: preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and the water over low heat. Stir together until the sugar has melted, then increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, then remove from the heat. In a mixing bowl, combine the sliced almonds with the sugar syrup and toss until well coated. With a slotted spoon, transfer the nuts to a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake until golden, about 10 to 15 minutes. Let the nuts cool and break them apart. The nuts should remain whole but be coated with a sugary golden coating.
To make the chocolate mousse: chill a bowl and the beaters of an electric mixer in the freezer for 1 hour. Meanwhile, in a double boiler, melt the chocolates over simmering water and stir in the cinnamon. In the frozen mixing bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks (do not over beat). Remove the double boiler insert holding the melted chocolate from the pan. With a rubber spatula, fold 1/4 of the whipped cream into the chocolate. Fold the remaining cold cream into the chocolate mixture, 1/4 at a time, mixing it as little as possible just to get it all incorporated.
When ready to assemble the torte, cut the sour cream cake in half horizontally with a long sharp knife. Place 1 layer of the cake on a serving plate and spread a thick layer of mousse on top of it. Sandwich the second layer over the top and spread a mounded layer of mouse over the top. Spread a layer of mousse around the edges, covering the cake completely. Gently press the sugared almonds into the mousse evenly around the edges of the cake. Using a very sharp vegetable peeler, shave long thick curls of chocolate over the top of the cake and serve immediately.
c.1997, M.S. Milliken & S. Feniger, all rights reserved