- With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 180 °C (350 °F). Butter and line 2 20-cm (8-inch) springform pans with parchment paper.
- In a bowl, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
- Melt the butter with the milk in the microwave oven, without boiling.
- In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the egg mixture alternately with the milk. Blend with an electric mixer.
- Divide the batter between the pans. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Unmould and cool completely. Slice each cake in half horizontally.
- Place the egg yolks in large bowl. Set aside.
- In a saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil. Simmer until a candy thermometer reads 105 °C (220 °F) and it forms a thick syrup, about 10 to 12 minutes.
- Drizzle the hot syrup over the egg yolks while beating with an electric mixer. Beat until it has completely cooled, about 15 minutes. Add the butter a few pieces at a time, beating until it is smooth. Add the vanilla.
- In a bowl, blend 375 ml (1 1/2 cups) of buttercream with the chestnut purée. Set aside.
- Place a slice of cake on a serving plate. Cover with chestnut buttercream and a second slice of cake. Repeat with the other two slices of cake.
- Spread a thin layer of buttercream on the top and sides of the cake. If desired, set some buttercream aside to color green and garnish the silver pearls on the cake. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Spread the remaining buttercream on the cake. Smooth with a metal spatula dipped in hot water. Refrigerate again for 30 minutes.
- For the twisted bi-color rope, at the top and bottom of the drum, add red food coloring to half of one almond paste package.
- Knead the almond paste with your fingers. Wear disposable latex gloves, if desired. Cut the red dough in half and roll into two long ropes. Roll as a piece of uncolored almond paste and twist together with the red rope.
- Roll out the remaining almond paste and smooth to form pieces to decorate the cake, as needed. Color a little buttercream or use green jelly to decorate the cake (sold in tubes in grocery stores). Wrap the silver pearls with green icing. Finish decorating by putting the two sticks of candy on top of the drum.
I often use the almond paste for baking. However, I rarely make it myself. At my grocery store, I find the Odense brand almond paste, provider of the royal court of Denmark. It is sold in tubes and found in most supermarkets and specialty grocery stores. It keeps at room temperature. Almond paste is easy to color: just add a few drop of food coloring and voila!