I have fond memories of the Cherry Festival – my small hometown’s annual carnival – from when I was very young and naïve (which I just might still be, but that’s another story).
I remember soaring high through the sky on the Ferris wheel with my dad, who convinced me that the height wouldn’t be scary with him by my side and would be worth going on first so we could check out the rest of the carnival grounds from a high vantage point.
I remember going on the Graviton with my older sister time after time, until feeling so dizzy that we had to stop and go back to normal gravity. That one was scary the first time, as it was like a huge spaceship and our parents didn’t go on it with us, but I went because my all-knowing sister convinced me it was fun. After that it was exhilarating and sickening at the same time.
I fondly remember the swings, my absolute favorite. I adored flying through the air with the wind in my hair and my feet dangling above the people below. Sometimes I would pretend to kick them, but mostly, I would just close my eyes and dream wonderful things.
I remember the first and last time someone ever convinced me to go on the zipper – the one that spun upside down. I didn’t fit in the seat and slid up and down, hitting my head, every time the rickety ride spun upside down. Someone else puked. I almost puked. The ground was practically holy to me once I got off the ride. Never again.
I remember the huge slide and racing down next to my friends on potato sacks. We would do this over and over because due to the typically short lines we could race up the steps and race down the slides and race up the steps and race down the slide, over and over again.
I remember the first time I ever went on the tiny dragon roller coaster for kids, which seemed huge at the time. I was convinced that the dragon carts were going to climb off the tracks and carry me away to my demise.
I remember spending too much money in order to win a goldfish that would die a week later.
I remember cotton candy and lemon shakeups and funnel cakes. And I remember cherries. Lots of cherry flavored and inspired foods.
But as I grew up, the cherry festival became less of an experience and more of a nostalgic thought. I realized the rides were overpriced and less than thrilling, if not nauseating. I also remembered the fish would die in a week, and that the game was a huge scam anyway. Sometime in the midst of childhood and adolescence, the festival lost its magic.
However, this year my mom convinced me to sign up for the cherry cookery contest, and again I got excited about our towns cherry fest. And this time it was all about ice cream. I’ve had a bit of an obsession with making ice cream lately, and dreamt up this lovely concoction for the contest. It’s a bit time consuming with having four different components that come together to make only one quart, but the result is very worth it.
Roasted Cherry Ice Cream with Chocolate Ganache Swirl
Makes about 1 quart
2 cups fresh whole cherries, washed and pitted
1 Tablespoon orange juice
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 Teaspoon cornstarch
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine all in an 8 inch round or square baking dish. Roast at 400 for 30-35 minutes, stirring cherries every ten minutes. Let cool.
½ cup cherries, washed and pitted
¼ cup water
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon cornstarch
Chop cherries into quarters. Combine water and cornstarch in small saucepan, stirring to dissolve. Add sugar and cherries and cook over high heat until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally and slightly mashing cherries, for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Strain out syrup and discard cherry pieces. Set cherry syrup aside to cool.
¼ cup heavy cream
1.5 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Microwave or heat cream on stovetop until it comes to a boil. Immediately after it boils remove from heat and add chocolate to cream. Let sit 5 minutes without stirring, then stir until chocolate completely incorporates into cream.
Ice Cream Base:
2 cups plus 1 Tablespoon whole milk
1 Tablespoon plus 1 Teaspoon cornstarch
3 ounces cream cheese
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 ¼ cup heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
Mix 1 Tablespoon milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl. Set aside. Put cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl and set aside
Combine 2 cups milk, cream, sugar and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan and bring to boil, reduce heat to medium and allow to boil for four to five minutes, stirring occasionally. Whisk in cornstarch and milk mixture, then allow to boil for a minute longer or until mixture is slightly thickened.
Add about ½ cup of the hot cream mixture to the bowl with the cream cheese and whisk until completely smooth. Gradually add remaining cream mixture to bowl while whisking to incorporate all
Chill the ice cream base completely, then pour into the frozen canister of an ice cream maker and spin according to manufacturers instructions. (It should take about 30 minutes until the ice cream is thick and creamy).
To Assemble Ice Cream:
After the cream is frozen, swirl the cherry syrup into the ice cream by hand. Do not fully incorporate.
Layer the ice cream into a storage container: Put about ¼ of the ice cream into the bottom, drizzle on a ¼ of the ganache, add ¼ of the roasted cherries, and repeat, ending with a drizzle of ganache and cherries on the top. Freeze until firm and serve.