1Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9" layer pans.
2In small mixing bowl beat egg whites until foamy. Beat in 1/2 cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time, continue beating until very stiff and glossy. Set aside.
3Measure remaining sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add oil, half the milk and the almond extract; beat 1 minute at high speed, scraping bowl constantly. Add the remaining milk and the egg yolks; beat 1 minute, scraping bowl occasionally. Fold in beaten egg whites. Pour into pans, dividing equally.
4Bake layers for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes and then remove from pans.
5While cake is cooling, combine ricotta, sugar and almond extract and mix well to blend. Stir in toasted almonds, cherries and chocolate. Blend well and refrigerate until ready to use.
6Place a medium sized mixing bowl and beaters into freezer for 15 minutes to chill thoroughly. Whip the cream in the cold bowl until foamy. Add the tablespoon of sugar and the vanilla and continue beating until soft peaks form.
7To assemble the cake:
Cut each layer of cake into 2 to make 4 thin layers. Place one layer onto serving plate. Spread 1/3 of the filling to within 1/2" of the edge. Repeat with 2nd and 3rd layers, using the other 1/3's of filling for each layer. Top with last layer of cake, pressing down gently to secure layers.
8Cover top and sides of cake with the whipped cream. Garnish with toasted almond slivers, halved maraschino cherries and shaved chocolate in a pleasing design. Keep cake refrigerated until serving time. Any remaining cake should be refrigerated.