Preparation / Directions:
1. Grease and flour two 9x1 1/2 inch round baking pans. Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
2. Beat butter in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed about 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar and beat till fluffy. Beat in egg yolks and almond extract. Add flour mixture; beat on low speed til well combined. Stir in almonds and chocolate. WAsh and dry beaters thoroughly.
3. Place egg whites in a large clean bowl; beat with an electric mixer on high speed til stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Fold in about one-fourth of the beaten egg whites to lighten batter; fold in remaining egg whites. Pour into prepared pans.
4. Bake in a 350 F oven for 35 to 40 minutes or till a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes on wire racks. Remove from pans; cool completely.
5. To assemble, place one cake layer on a cake plate, brush with half of the liqueur. Top with half of the Roman Filling. Peel paper off Chocolate Meringue, and set meringue on top. Spread with the remaining Roman Filling. Place second cake layer on top, brush with remaining liqueur. Frost top and sides of cake iwth Roman Icing. Garnish with fresh or chocolate-covered cherries or maraschino cherries, chocolate-dipped almonds, and/or chocolate curls, if desired. Chill in refrigerator at least 4 hours before serving.
6. Roman Icing and Filling: Beat together one 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened; one 3 ounce package cream cheese, softened; and 1 cup butter or margarine in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium to high speed til light and fluffy. Beat in 1 teaspoon almond extract. Gradually beat in 7 1/2 to 8 cups sifted powdered sugar, beating to a thick spreading consistency. Remove 1 3/4 cups to a smaller bowl, and stir in 3/4 cup chopped candied cherries; reserve this mixture for filling. For icing, beat 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled, into remaining cream cheese mixture.
7. Chocolate Meringue: Grease bottomand sides of an 8x1 inch round cake pan. Line bottom with waxed paper. Grease waxed paper. Set pan aside. Place 2 egg whites and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a medium mixing bowl; beat with an electric mixer on low speed til frothy. Add 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar and beat on medium speed tils soft peaks form (tips stand straight). Gradually add 2/3 cup granulated sugar, beating at high speed till stiff peaks form. Spoon into prepared pan, smoothing top with back of a spoon to even surface. Bake in a 300 F oven for 45 minutes. Turn off oven; let dry in closed oven for 1 hour.