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1/2 pound fresh dark sweet cherries, pitted or 1 cup canned dark sweet cherries, drained and pitted
8 tablespoons Kirschwasser
1/2 cup sifted flour
1/2 cup sifted cocoa
6 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
5 1/2 tablespoons butter
cocoa and butter (for pan)
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
semisweet chocolate curls

Combine cherries and 2 tablespoons of the Kirschwasser in small saucepan and let stand while preparing cake.

Sift together flour and cocoa. Beat egg yolks in small bowl with electric mixer on high speed until very thick and lemon-colored, about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar, vanilla and salt. Beat until sugar is dissolved and mixture forms a ribbon when beater is lifted, 2 to 3 minutes.

Wash and dry beaters thoroughly. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar in large mixer bowl at high speed until foamy, then gradually beat in 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form and sugar is dissolved. Gently fold dry mixture into yolk mixture. Fold 2 large spoonfuls of egg whites into yolk mixture. Pour yolk mixture over remaining whites and gently fold together just until blended. Gently fold in butter, about 2 tablespoons at a time. Divide batter evenly between 2 buttered and cocoa-dusted 8 inch round cake pans. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven until center of cake springs back when lightly touched, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool cakes 5 minutes, carefully remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

Add 2 tablespoons water to cherries in saucepan. Heat to simmering over medium-low heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until cherries are tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, reserving liquid. Heat 2 tablespoons of the liquid and remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar to simmering in small saucepan over medium-low heat. Simmer until very syrupy, about 3 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and stir in 4 tablespoons Kirschwasser.

Cut cake layers in half horizontally to make 4 thin layers. Drizzle syrup mixture evenly over cut sides of each layer, spreading with spatula to cover evenly.

Whip cream in medium bowl at high speed until soft peaks form, then add powdered sugar and remaining 2 tablespoons Kirschwasser. Continue beating until stiff peaks are formed.

Place 1 cake layer, cut side up, on serving plate. Spread with scant 3/4 cup whipped cream. Top with second layer, cut side down; spread with scant 3/4 cup whipped cream. Reserve 6 cherries for garnish and arrange remaining cherries over whipped cream on cake layers. Top with third cake layer, cut side up, and spread with scant 3/4 cup whipped cream. Top with final cake layer, cut side down. Frost top and sides of cake with remaining whipped cream. Garnish with reserved cherries and chocolate curls. Refrigerate until serving time. Cut into wedges to serve.