Chocolate Sformato with Amaretto Whipped Cream

2 cups whole milk, divided
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 packet gelatin
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 (12-ounce) bag bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds, divided
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 tablespoon almond liqueur (recommended: Amaretto)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 

In a small saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups of the milk, the sugar, and vanilla. Bring to a simmer and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat. Sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining 1/2 cup cold milk and let dissolve for 2 minutes. Combine the cold milk and gelatin with the hot milk and sugar.

Stir to dissolve the gelatin, about 5 minutes. (Heat the milk gently if the gelatin is not dissolving easily.) When the gelatin is dissolved add the milk to the eggs, one ladle at a time whisking constantly (this is called tempering) to avoid scrambling the eggs.

Return mixture to the pot.  Place the bowl into the sink with a sieve over top pour the mixture through.   To make sure you have a smooth mixture.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate over a double boiler.  You can make one by putting a heat safe bowl over a pot with about 1" of water.  You do not want the water to touch the bowl.

When the chocolate is melted gradually combine the milk and egg mixture with the melted chocolate, stirring between each addition to create a smooth chocolate mixture.

Pour the mixture into a buttered 2-quart casserole dish, or use a 6" springform pan (the bottom wrapped in heavy duty aluminum foil, large enough to use one sheet or you can get water in your sformato). Sprinkle the top with 1/4 cup of the almonds.

Place the casserole dish in a larger dish or roasting pan. Add hot water to the outer pan until the water comes halfway up the sides of the baking dish. Bake until the sides are firm and the center is jiggles slightly, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven, remove pan from water (set on a heat safe cloth) and let cool for at least 30 minutes.

If using a springform pan slide a butter knife around the pan to release the sformato before opening the pan.

Just before serving, whip the cream to soft peaks in a medium bowl using a whisk or electric hand mixer. Add the sugar and almond liqueur and whip to combine. Spoon the sformato into individual serving bowls and dollop the top with the almond liqueur whip cream.
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