1. Heat chocolate and 1-1/2 cups heavy cream in medium-size saucepan over low heat until chocolate is melted and smooth. Pour half of chocolate mixture into small bowl and refrigerate frosting until chocolate hardens to spreading consistency, about 2 hours. Set aside remaining chocolate in covered saucepan so it remains liquid.
2. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9-inch-round cake pans. Line the bottom of each with a round of waxed paper; grease the paper.
3. Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Stir in almonds and almond extract. Pour into pans.
4. Bake in 350 degree F oven 30 to 40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans on rack 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack; peel off paper. Cool cakes completely, about 45 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, drain cherries, reserving syrup (about 3/4 cup). Pat cherries dry with paper toweling. Coarsely chop.
6. Beat together remaining 2 cups heavy cream, powdered sugar and cherry brandy if using, in medium-size bowl at medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Fold in cherries.
7. With serrated knife, carefully cut each cake horizontally in half to make 4 layers. Place 1 cake layer, cut side up, on serving plate. Brush one-fourth of reserved syrup over cake layer. Spread with one-third whipped cream mixture. Repeat with 2 more cake layers, syrup and whipped cream mixture. Top with remaining layer. Spread chocolate frosting over top and sides of cake. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until frosting sets.
8. Place cake on wire rack over tray. Pour chocolate coating from saucepan over top of cake. (If chocolate has thickened too much, stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons water until pourable consistency.) Spread with long metal spatula so chocolate coats top and runs down sides of cake; spread over sides to cover cake completely. Refrigerate cake at least 1 hour before serving.