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Bostock (Almond Toast)

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1/2 cup water

1/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons dark rum or fresh orange juice

Almond Cream:

3 ounces (about 1/2 heaping cup) whole natural almonds

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 tablespoon flour

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

To assemble:

6 slices, day-old brioche, challah, pain de mie or other rich bread, each slice about 3 by 4 1/2 inches by 1/2- 3/4 inch thick (crusts removed, if desired)

2/3 cup sliced almonds

Powdered sugar for sprinkling, optional