A Mother’s Day Cornucopia

When Zeus was a newborn, his father wanted to eat him, so the future king of the gods fled to a secret chamber beneath Mt. Ida on the Isle of Crete.

There, baby Zeus drank the milk of a nymph goat named Almathea, which means “nurturing goddess” in ancient Greek. He became so strong on this diet that he accidentally broke off one of Almathea’s horns while they played. She filled the broken horn with herbs and fruit and gave it to Zeus. The food in Almathea’s horn never ran out.

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This myth is widely believed to be the origin of “cornucopia.” The word is based on the ancient Greek cornu for horn and copiae for copious, which together mean “horn of plenty.” Throughout the ages, the cornucopia has often been portrayed as a horn or horn-shaped basket, sack, or other vessel overflowing with fruit, grains, flowers, and other foods. Depictions of this abundance adorn the state flags of Wisconsin and Idaho, and the national flag of Peru.

Animal horns have appeared elsewhere throughout history as drinking vessels for children, including bronze age “drinking horn” vessels found in the graves of infants excavated in the Carpathian mountains of Hungary.

More recently, the cornucopia has become associated with the fall harvest and Thanksgiving holiday. But given its history, I think it’s a meaningful way to celebrate Mother’s Day. The cornucopia also honors the fertility and abundance of our Mother Earth, which awakens in spring.

Our Mother’s Day cornucopia employs a chocolate-covered ice cream cone as a horn. Since ice cream cones are small, we can make these cones in bunches, a veritable cornucopia of cornucopium, overflowing with strawberry ricotta filling.

Chocolate, strawberries, and cream seemed like a fitting combination of flavors for Mother’s Day, and when I fed a sample to a room of mothers and mother lovers at a Mother’s Day pre-party, it was a hit.

The filling is based on the filling of a Sicilian cannoli, and the symbolism is just as rich. Using a horn full of milk as a baby bottle isn’t too different from giving a kid an ice cream cone. A fitting treat for mama mia, or anyone else you want to pamper.

Chocolate-dipped ice cream cones stuffed with a cannoli-inspired filling make a symbolic and decadent sweet treat. (Ari LeVaux)

Chocolate Strawberry Crème Cornucopia

Pro tip: You don’t have to wait around for Mother’s Day to serve this creamy, conical indulgence.

Makes 10 copious cones

  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 4-ounce chocolate bar
  • 3 tablespoons of chocolate hazelnut paste, like Nutella
  • 10 ice cream cones
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 10 strawberries, washed and diced
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (optional)
  • Mint, for garnish
  • Pocky sticks or other long, thin cookies for garnish

Set aside the ricotta to drain in a mesh strainer.

In a saucepan on low, melt and stir together the butter, chocolate bar, and chocolate hazelnut paste. When it’s completely melted and mixed, dip the cones one by one, getting chocolate on the rim and both sides of the rim. Find a way to support the cones upright, perhaps in small cups, and place them in the fridge to harden.

In a bowl, mix the strained ricotta, vanilla, half the strawberries, and sugar. Pack this mixture into the chocolate-dipped cones, and top with more strawberries, a sprig of mint, and whatever other fun, beautiful things you can find.


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