Make the sugared cranberries: Bring 3/4 cup granulated sugar and 3/4 cup water to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Put the cranberries in a large bowl and pour the sugar syrup over them; let sit 1 hour. Whisk the remaining 3/4 cup granulated sugar with the cardamom in a large bowl. Drain the cranberries, add to the spiced sugar and toss to coat. Spread the cranberries and sugar on a rimmed baking sheet. Let sit, rerolling the cranberries in the sugar occasionally until dry, 2 to 3 hours.
Meanwhile, make the cake: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Coat two 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Coat the parchment with cooking spray. Whisk the all-purpose flour, almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, allspice and cardamom in a large bowl; set aside. Put the cocoa powder in a separate large bowl. Heat 1 cup water in a small saucepan until almost simmering; pour over the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Set aside until slightly cooled, about 10 minutes.
Add the eggs to the cocoa mixture and beat with a mixer on medium-high speed until just combined. Add the granulated sugar, buttermilk, vegetable oil and vanilla; beat until combined. Reduce the mixer speed to low; gradually add the flour mixture, then increase the speed to medium and beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans; lightly tap on the counter to remove any air bubbles. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool 10 minutes in the pans, then invert the cakes onto the rack to cool completely. Remove the parchment. (The cake layers can be made 1 day ahead; let cool, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap.)
Make the frosting: Beat the butter, confectioners' sugar and salt in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed until just combined. Add the vanilla and almond extracts; increase the mixer speed to high and beat, scraping down the side of the bowl, until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the milk and almond liqueur; beat until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 more minutes.
Halve 1/2 cup of the sugared cranberries. Place one cake layer on a plate or cake stand. Spread with 1 cup frosting, then sprinkle with the halved cranberries. Top with the second cake layer. Cover the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Top with the remaining sugared cranberries.
Photograph by Ryan Liebe
Recipe courtesy of Food Network Magazine