The Culture of Food and Drink


Home / Desserts w/recipe  / When It’s Too Hot To Cook, An Ice Bowl Saves The Day

When It’s Too Hot To Cook, An Ice Bowl Saves The Day

A flower ice bowl filled with summer fruit and elderflower blossoms. Credit: Copyright 2015 Sue Style

A flower ice bowl filled with summer fruit and elderflower blossoms. Credit: Copyright 2015 Sue Style

 

With summer heat at its peak, the idea of hot food is a serious turnoff.  Cool is where it’s at. And you can’t get much cooler than the following flowery ice bowl. It takes a little time and attention to make, as it must be frozen in several stages. However, the result is startlingly gorgeous, especially when filled with fresh summer fruit or sundry scoops of ice cream or sorbet.

Selecting your bowls

To make an ice bowl, you will need two bowls, one slightly larger than the other. Credit: Copyright 2015 Sue Style

To make an ice bowl, you will need two bowls, one slightly larger than the other. Credit: Copyright 2017 Sue Style

First, select your bowls. You’ll need two: one bigger than the other, so the smaller one will sit inside the larger. The ones I’ve used here are about 8 inches and 10 inches in diameter (20 centimeters and 25 centimeters).

If you have two metal bowls, things will go even faster, but this combo of a ceramic mixing bowl with a smaller metal one works just fine. The point is their difference in size: You’ll be filling the space between the two with water and flowers, and the space must be sufficient to make thick ice walls for your ice bowl.

Also, make sure you have space in the freezer for your two bowls sitting one inside the other. (A cue to use up all that produce frozen last summer?)

Choosing your flowers

Good flower selections for an ice bowl include, clockwise from top left, St. John's wort, lavender, Alchemilla mollis, pelargoniums, perennial geraniums and rose petals. Credit: Copyright 2015 Sue Style

Good flower selections for an ice bowl include, clockwise from top left, St. John’s wort, lavender, Alchemilla mollis, pelargonium, perennial geraniums and rose petals. Credit: Copyright 2017 Sue Style

Next go out and pick (or buy) some flowers — from your garden or terrace if you have one, or even wild ones, which give a graceful, homey touch.

The flowers should not be too big (a maximum of 1 inch across), and you’ll want to use a good mix of colors. Geraniums work beautifully, either the predominantly red and purple Pelargonium/window-box varieties or the blue or pink perennial ones. Lavender is great, as is the deep egg-yolk yellow St. John’s wort, aka Hypericum. A few rose petals won’t go amiss, and if you have some lacy, lime-green flowers of Alchemilla mollis, throw in a few of those too. Basically any small colorful flower or petal will do.

Starting your ice bowl

To start your ice bowl, place a few flowers in the bottom of the bowl, add a little water and freeze. Credit: Copyright 2015 Sue Style

To start your ice bowl, place a few flowers in the bottom of the bowl, add a little water and freeze. Credit: Copyright 2017 Sue Style

Pour about 1 1/2 inches (3 centimeters to 4 centimeters) of water in the bottom of the larger bowl and place a few flowers in the water. They will float around a bit, so don’t fret too much about placing them neatly and symmetrically; they will sort themselves out. In any case, this layer will be the base, so the flowers will be barely visible once you’ve filled your ice bowl. Put the bowl into the freezer and leave until solidly frozen.

Creating the bowl shape

When the base is frozen, place the smaller bowl on top and place a weight inside it to keep it from floating. Then freeze again. Credit: Copyright 2015 Sue Style

When the base is frozen, place the smaller bowl on top and place a weight inside it to keep it from floating. Then freeze again. Credit: Copyright 2017 Sue Style

Once the base is frozen, remove the bowl from the freezer and place the smaller bowl on top. It should sit with its rim slightly above the outer bowl, because it’s sitting on the frozen base. Make sure the smaller bowl is centered, and place a can of something heavy in it so it doesn’t float when you add more water.

Add about 1 1/2 inches of water and drop some flowers between the two bowls, poking them down a bit into the water. Freeze again. Repeat this procedure once or twice more until the water is up to the rim of the outer bowl.

The point of doing this bit by bit is to allow each layer of water and flowers to freeze firmly each time; if you poured it all in at once, all the flowers would bob up to the top, which would spoil the effect.

Once you’ve completed the process, keep the ice bowl in the freezer until needed.

Removing the ice bowl

When the space between the two bowls is filled, the flower ice bowl is ready. Credit: Copyright 2015 Sue Style

When the space between the two bowls is filled, the flower ice bowl is ready. Credit: Copyright 2017 Sue Style

Finally comes the tricky part — you need to get your creation out from between the two bowls. The first step is to remove the small bowl (after you’ve removed that can of something heavy). Pour some hot water (tap-hot is enough) into the smaller bowl and leave for a few moments, just long enough so you can lift it out. Now fill a sink with hot water and lower the big bowl into it. Keep testing until the ice bowl has melted enough that it’s freed itself from the sides of the bowl.

Serving ideas

The finished flower ice bowl, ready to be filled with summer fruits or ice cream. Credit: Copyright 2015 Sue Style

The finished flower ice bowl, ready to be filled with summer fruits or ice cream. Credit: Copyright 2017 Sue Style

Once the ice bowl has been freed, lift it out and place on a napkin-lined tray or plate (so it doesn’t slide and/or leak).

Now you can fill it with whatever suits your fancy: a mixture of soft summer fruits or a colorful selection of ice cream and/or sorbet, for example.

Main photo: A flower ice bowl filled with summer fruit and elderflower blossoms. Credit: Copyright 2017 Sue Style



Zester Daily contributor Sue Style lives in Alsace, France, close to the German and Swiss borders. She's the author of nine books on subjects ranging from Mexican food to the food and wines of Alsace and Switzerland. Her most recent, published in October 2011, is "Cheese: Slices of Swiss Culture." Her website is suestyle.com.

5 COMMENTS
  • Carol Donald 7·14·15

    On a reasonably warm day, how long does the bowl stay frozen enough, as to not to make a mess of your table. Or do you sit it in a shallow bowl?

  • Sue Style 7·15·15

    Hi Carol – as you see in the picture, I set mine on a napkin laid on a tray or dish, which will mop up any water. Only take it from the freezer just before you plan to fill it, and that way it will stay frozen for an hour or so. And if it’s still reasonably un-melted, you can just refreeze and recycle it. Have fun with your ice bowl! Sue

  • Carla Capalbo 7·21·15

    Beautiful and lovely idea, brava!

  • Jackie Dennis 8·3·15

    After visiting you in the beautiful setting of your home I have been inspired to try some of your great recipes including the ice bowl. Only problem is freezer space in my tiny apartment,at the moment. May have to do this using Emma’s or Shelly’s freezer!

  • Sue Style 8·23·15

    Hi Jackie – so good to see you over here, good luck with the ice bowl (and finding/poaching some freezer space!), Sue

POST A COMMENT