3 eggs, separated
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar, divided use
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup plus 2 tsp. all-purpose flour
4 ounces semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup strong coffee
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup orange liqueur (Grand Marnier, Curaco, Triple Sec), divided use
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1-1/3 cups finely chopped almonds
Lightly butter a large baking sheet and cover it with waxed paper. Preheat oven to 375°F. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg yolks with 1/4 cup sugar at high speed until thick and very light in color, about 3 minutes. Spoon out into another bowl, wash the bowl and whisk for the whites. Beat the whites at high speed until soft peaks form; add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and mix until stiff. Sift flour over egg yolk mixture; add vanilla and half the egg whites. Fold until smooth. Fold in remaining egg whites. With a pastry bag fitted with number 14 tip, pipe out ladyfingers 3 inches long and 1/4 inch apart. Sugar two times with powdered sugar. Bake until lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool. Makes about 40.
Melt the chocolate and coffee together in the microwave or over low heat on the stovetop. Set aside. Whip the cream until just stiff. Set aside.
Put the sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground (this is superfine sugar). Add the butter and process until pale and fluffy. Add 1/4 cup of the orange liqueur, the melted chocolate, and the almond extract. Continue beating until sugar is not grainy, about 1 minute. Beat in almonds. Fold part of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then fold in the rest.
Butter the sides of a 10-inch springform pan and line with waxed paper. Sprinkle the remaining orange liqueur over the ladyfingers. Arrange as many ladyfingers as needed upright around the inside of the pan, rounded side out. Pour one third of the filling into the pan. Arrange over it one half of the remaining ladyfingers. Pour a second third of the filling over that and top with remaining ladyfingers. Pour the rest of the filling over all, spread until smooth, and cover with plastic wrap. Chill at least 6 hours. Remove the sides of the pan and decorate with whipped cream rosettes and shaved chocolate, if desired.
Serves 12 -16