For filling, in a medium bowl combine sugar, tapioca and almond extract. Fold in cherries; set aside.
For pastry, in a large bowl stir together flour, almonds, sugar and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until pieces are pea size. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon ice water over part of the flour mixture; toss gently with a fork. Push moistened dough to side of bowl. Repeat with additional ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until all of the flour mixture is moistened. Gather dough into a ball, kneading gently until it holds together.
Divide dough into three portions. Shape each portion into a ball.
On a lightly floured surface, roll one portion of pastry into an 8-inch circle. Line a 5-inch tart dish or pie pan with pastry. Repeat with remaining portions of pastry.
Spoon filling into pastry-lined tart dishes. Trim pastry even with tart dish rims.
Reroll pastry trimmings for decorative additions, including cutouts and braids. For cutouts, use a small cutter to cut shapes. Brush pastry edge with water. Press shapes along edge to adhere or place on filling. For braids, cut three long 1/4-inch-wide strips of pastry; braid strips. Brush pastry edge with water and press ends of strips into pastry to adhere. Brush pastry additions with cream; sprinkle with additional sugar.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until filling is bubbly and pastry is golden. Cool on a wire rack. If desired, serve with vanilla ice cream.