Put frozen whipped topping and frozen cherries to delightful use in this impressive finale. If you don't have 3-inch ring molds, which look like round cookie cutters, use smooth-sided mini charlotte molds with removable bottoms. Or you can freeze the mixture in a 9-inch springform pan and cut it into wedges for a more homey presentation.
2/3 cup sugar, divided
1 tablespoon amaretto (almond-flavored liqueur)
1 (12-ounce) package frozen pitted dark sweet cherries
Combine 1/3 cup sugar, amaretto, and sweet cherries in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and cook 10 minutes or until sugar dissolves and cherries are soft, stirring occasionally. Combine 1 tablespoon water and cornstarch in a small bowl, stirring until smooth. Stir cornstarch mixture into cherry mixture; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Spoon cherry mixture into a bowl; cover and chill 1 hour. Strain mixture through a sieve over a bowl, reserving cherry mixture and juice. Cover and chill juice.
Place almonds and wafers in a food processor; process until coarsely ground.
Combine remaining 1/3 cup sugar, cream of tartar, salt, and egg whites in the top of a double boiler. Cook over simmering water until a thermometer registers 160° (about 6 minutes), stirring constantly with a whisk. Remove from heat. Beat with an electric mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form. Spoon whipped topping into a large bowl. Gently fold one-fourth of egg white mixture into whipped topping; gently fold in remaining egg white mixture. Fold 1/2 cup almond mixture into egg white mixture; gently fold in strained cherry mixture.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; place 10 (3-inch) ring molds on parchment. Spoon 1/2 cup egg white mixture into each mold; sprinkle the remaining almond mixture evenly over tops. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; freeze 4 hours or until set. Let stand 10 minutes at room temperature. Run a knife around the outside edge; remove from molds. Serve tortonis with the reserved cherry juice.
Wine note: When matching a wine with desserts, like Cherry Tortoni, an off-dry or slightly sweet wine will hold up where a dry wine is quickly overwhelmed. Alice White Lexia 2007 ($8) is fun and fruity with big aromas of honey, flowers, and peaches. The wine has a good bit of sweetness that works well with fruity desserts, while the crisp finish keeps it bright and refreshing rather than cloying. —Jeffery Lindenmuth
Trial run for a Christmas Eve party. I didnt have almonds so I used pecans ( i would stick with almonds)The egg mixture never reached its recommended temp after 12 minutes, but I used it anyway. I will probably chop the cherries and add more amaretto next time. The sauce is a must!
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