I love this flavor combination and chose to adapt a recipe that I found on the web many years ago. I don't know where it originated, perhaps Kraft. This dessert consists of a almond/cracker meringue layer, a cream cheese/Cool Whip layer, and a topping layer. The topping may be any flavor of canned pie filling, pudding, or fresh fruit. Since this must be made ahead, it is a nice dessert to make for parties and potlucks.
I like to break up the slivered almonds some beyond how they come in the package. Other nuts can be used instead of the almonds. They all will be better if they are toasted.
Since eggs separate best of they are cold, separate them right out of the fridge and let the whites warm to room temperature before beating them.
For easier handling, line the baking pan with foil.
3 egg whites, at room temperature
1 c. granulated sugar
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. almond extract
1 t. vinegar
12 saltine crackers, crumbled
1/3 c. toasted slivered almonds, broken
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened (may be low fat)
1 c. powdered sugar, sifted
1 (8 oz.) container Cool Whip, thawed (may be low fat)
1 can (21 oz.) cherry pie filling or other desired topping
1/4 c. sliced almonds, toasted.
Beat egg whites until stiff. Gradually add granulated sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Stir in vanilla, almond extract, and vinegar. Fold in almonds and crumbled crackers. Spoon mixture into a foil-lined baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes until light golden brown. Let cool completely. Mix softened cream cheese and powdered sugar together until smooth. Fold in Cool Whip. Spread mixture over cooled meringue layer. Chill 30 minutes to 1 hour. Spread cherry pie filling over the top. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and keep chilled until ready to serve. Sprinkle sliced almonds over the top before cutting into squares to serve. Makes 12 to 15 servings.