Photo: Ray Kachatorian
Makes 16 servings

The delicate balance among the cherries, almond cake, and subtle cardamom cream left our testers clamoring for more. With individual serving dishes, one-fourth of the cake will be left over, but it makes a great breakfast with raspberry jam and hot tea. Prep: 45 minutes; Bake: 1 hour and 5 minutes; Chill: 2 hours.

How to Make It

Step 1

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 10-cup Bundt pan.

Step 2

Sift together first 3 ingredients in a large bowl. Process almond paste and 1 1/4 cups sugar in a food processor until blended. Beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed 1 minute. Add sugar mixture and 1 teaspoon vanilla, and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down sides. Gradually add flour mixture, mixing just until blended.

Step 3

Pour into prepared Bundt pan, and bake 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into cake center comes out clean. Remove from oven, and let cool.

Step 4

Toss cherries with Cognac, cinnamon sticks, 3 teaspoons vanilla, 3 tablespoons sugar, and vanilla bean halves in a bowl; pour into a roasting pan. Increase heat to 425°, and bake cherry mixture 10 minutes. Place vanilla bean halves and cinnamon sticks in a small bowl, and let cool. Strain cherries, and reserve all cooking liquid.

Step 5

Scrape vanilla beans with a spoon, and place seeds in bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer. Add whipping cream. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, add cardamom, if desired, and whisk until stiff peaks form.

Step 6

Assemble trifle in 16 (10-ounce) individual glasses. Slice cake into 3/4-inch pieces. Layer cake pieces, 1 1/2 teaspoons cherry liquid, cherries, and 3 tablespoons cream; repeat layers, ending with 1 tablespoon cream. Chill 2 hours, sprinkle with almonds, and serve.

Step 7

*To bring eggs to room temperature safely, remove from refrigerator and place in a bowl for 30 minutes.

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