When Zeus was a newborn, his father wanted to eat him, so the future king of gods was taken to a secret chamber beneath Mount Ida on the Greek island of Crete.
There, baby Zeus began drinking the milk of a goat named Amalthea. He became so strong that he accidentally broke off one of Amalthea’s horns while they played. She filled the broken horn with herbs and fruit and gave it to Zeus. The food in Amalthea’s horn never ran out.
This myth is widely believed to be the origin of the word “cornucopia.” The word is derived from the Late Latin terms “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 fruits, 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 horns found in the graves of infants excavated in Bonyhád, Hungary.
More recently, the cornucopia has become associated with the fall harvest and the 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.
My Mother’s Day cornucopia employs a chocolate-covered ice cream cone as a horn. Since ice cream cones are small, I make them in bunches, a veritable cornucopia of cornucopias overflowing with strawberry-ricotta filling.
Chocolate, strawberries and cream seemed like a fitting combination of flavors for Mother’s Day, and when I fed samples to a room of guests at a Mother’s Day pre-party, they were 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 your mother or anyone else you want to pamper.
Pro tip: you don’t have to wait around for Mother’s Day to serve this creamy, conical indulgence.
Makes 10 copious cones
Set aside the ricotta to drain in a mesh strainer.
In a saucepan on low heat, melt and stir the butter, chocolate and chocolate-hazelnut spread. When they’re completely melted and mixed, dip the cones one by one, covering the rims with chocolate on all sides. 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 extract, sugar and half the strawberries. 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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