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Ribbon of Cherry Cheesecake


      1 cup sliced almonds
      1 cup graham cracker crumbs
      1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
      21 ounces (1 can) cherry filling
      3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (divided) granulated sugar
      2 tablespoons cornstarch
      1/2 teaspoon almond extract
      4 packages (8 ounces each) softened cream cheese
      3 tablespoons amaretto liqueur
      1 tablespoon lemon juice
      1 teaspoon vanilla extract
      3 eggs, slightly beaten


    In a skillet over medium heat, toast almonds. Remove from heat; chop finely. In a  medium bowl, combine almonds, graham cracker crumbs and butter; mix well. Press crumb  mixture evenly 2 inches up the sides and over the bottom of a 10--inch springform pan. Set  aside.

    In an electric blender or food processor container, puree cherry filling until smooth.  Pour pureed cherry filing into a medium saucepan. Combine 2 tablespoons granulated sugar  and cornstarch; stir into cherry filling. Cook, stirring constantly, over a low heat until  mixture is thick and bubbly. Remove from heat. Stir in almond extract. Set aside to cool.

    In a mixing bowl with a electric mixer, combine cream cheese, remaining 3/4 cup sugar,  Amaretto, lemon juice and vanilla; beat until fluffy. Add eggs all at once, beating on low  speed just until mixed. Do not over beat.

    To assemble the cheesecake, pour one-third of the cream cheese mixture into prepared  crust. Top with about 1/3 cup of the cherry puree. Swirl cherry mixture into cream cheese  mixture using a knife or spatula. Repeat layers twice, ending with cherry puree. Reserve  remaining puree.

    Bake in a preheated 350 degrees oven 60 to 65 minutes or until the center appears  nearly set when gently shaken. Do not let the top crack. Cool on wire rack. Let chill. To  serve, spoon a generous tablespoon of puree on serving plate. Place cheesecake wedge on  top of puree.

    NOTE: When baking cheesecake, set a shallow baking dish filled with water on the lower  shelf of the oven. Bake cheesecake on shelf in middle of the oven. The resulting  cheesecake will be creamy without the usual dry outer edge.

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