Combine almonds, graham cracker crumbs and butter in medium bowl; mix well. Press crumb mixture evenly over the bottom and 2 inches up side of 10-inch springform pan. Set aside.
Purée cherry pie filling in blender or food processor until smooth; pour into medium saucepan. Combine 2 tablespoons sugar and cornstarch; stir into cherry filling. Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat until mixture is thick and bubbly. Remove from heat. Stir in almond extract. Set aside to cool.
Combine cream cheese, remaining 3/4 cup sugar, amaretto, lemon juice and vanilla in large mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed 3 to 4 minutes, or until well mixed. Add eggs all at once; beat on low speed just until mixed.
To assemble cheesecake, pour one-third of the cream cheese mixture into prepared crust. Top with about 1/3 cup cherry purée. Swirl cherry mixture into cream cheese mixture, using knife or spatula. Repeat layers twice, ending with cherry purée. Reserve remaining purée.
Bake in preheated 350°F oven 60 to 65 minutes, or until center appears nearly set when gently shaken. Cool on wire rack. Refrigerate until ready to serve. To serve, spoon generous tablespoon of purée on serving plate. Place cheesecake wedge on top of purée.
Makes 16 servings.
Recipe adapted from Cherry Marketing Institute
Date: January 20, 2003