1. Follow steps 1 through 9 for cake, using three 8-inch square metal baking pans; bake 30 minutes.Filling:
2. Beat butter and sugar in bowl on medium speed until well blended. Add milk and vanilla; beat until good frosting consistency, about 3 minutes. Beat in cocoa powder.
3. Place 1 cake layer on rack with rimmed baking sheet underneath. Trim level if needed. Top with 3/4 cup filling. Stack with second layer. Spread with 3/4 cup filling. Add third layer. Use remaining filling to fill in around edges where layers meet.Ganache:
4. In saucepan, over medium heat, bring cream to simmer. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and almond extract if using; cover; let stand 10 minutes.
5. Stir ganache until completely smooth, heating slightly if needed. Let cool until good pouring consistency, 85 degrees F to 95 degrees F. Pour over cake, covering all sides, using long straight metal spatula to smooth if necessary. Set cake aside to set, or refrigerate. Once set, move to plate.
6. Divide marzipan in half. If desired, tint with coloring. Using confectioners sugar for dusting, roll marzipan to 1/4-inch thickness. With paring knife or fluted pastry cutter, cut out 8 x 1-1/2-inch ribbon. Reroll scraps; cut out second ribbon. Repeat with other half of marzipan. Attach ribbons to cake, meeting in top center. Trim if necessary. Arrange cookies and stick cookies. Makes 16 servings.