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Larkann Steffens |  Victoria EC

Maraschino cherry juice imparts a pale pink hue to this elegant cake. Chopped cherries and almonds lend an appealing texture, while the whipped topping adds a festive element. For best results, prepare the white chocolate custard a day in advance so it has plenty of time to chill before assembly.

1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup white chocolate morsels
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, cut into slices

1/2 cup coarsely chopped sliced almonds
16 maraschino cherries, cut into eighths
16 whole maraschino cherries, drained
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup maraschino cherry juice
3 cups cake flour, sifted
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (about 2/3 stick) butter, softened
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
5 egg whites

3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1. Custard: Whisk sugar, cornstarch and salt together in a small saucepan. Turn heat to medium-high and whisk in milk and egg yolks. Stir constantly, until mixture is thickened and bubbly, about 10–15 minutes.

2. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and white chocolate morsels, and whisk in butter slices one at a time. Place the custard in a bowl, covering with plastic wrap to prevent a skin, and refrigerate until cold.

3. Batter: Combine almonds and cut cherries in a small bowl; set aside. Place whole cherries on paper towels to drain. Combine milk and cherry juice in a measuring cup and set aside.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans, or line with parchment.

5. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter, shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture alternately with the cherry milk mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients, blending well after each addition. Add almond extract.

6. Using a clean bowl and beaters, whip egg whites until stiff.

7. Fold almonds and cherries into batter, then fold in egg whites. Divide batter between the two pans and bake 30–35 minutes or until springy to touch.

8. Cool cakes in pans for 5 minutes, then invert onto wire racks to cool completely (carefully peel away parchment, if using).

9. Topping: Using beaters or a standing mixer, whip the heavy cream, powdered sugar and extracts to a thick whipped cream for piping, or slightly smoother consistency for spreading. Refrigerate the whipped cream until you’re ready to use it.

10. To assemble cake, gently spread 1 cup of cold custard over the first layer of cooled cake, allowing some to drip down sides. Place the second layer on the cake and gently spread another cup of custard over the top. Pipe or spread whipped cream onto the cake, and garnish with the whole cherries. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Serves 10–12.

Cook’s Tip

Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to three days.