Flaming Apricot Ice Cream: Solstice Fire Magic!
One thing the Summer Solstice most certainly brings to mind is fire. During the longest day of the year, our attention is naturally drawn to the great ball of fire in the sky, illuminating our world and giving us the ability for life. Fruits ripen with the blush of the sun, bees busily pollinate colorful flowers, and our shoulders feel the warm rays shining down upon us. Fire is a powerful element - it can be greatly purifying, but also immensely damaging. And on this day especially, our ancestors were drawn to celebrate with flames even more so than we are today. The tradition of lighting bonfires on the Summer Solstice dates back to the Middle Ages (or perhaps even earlier.) Big bonfires are lit all over the Northern Hemisphere on this day (and probably the Southern too, where they’ll be celebrating Midwinter instead.)
Ancient Pagans believed that fire could be used for purification or protection, perhaps by the same means: scaring away evil. Traditional celebrations involving fire were practiced all throughout Europe, from early morning ceremonies greeting the rising sun to dancing barefoot on lit embers. Farmers would run through their fields on the Summer Solstice carrying smoking torches to drive out bad spirits and negativity to ensure a bountiful harvest. They would also celebrate around bonfires as well, which served a purpose beyond being a source of warmth and community; they kept the darkness and all it represented at bay during the cover of night. In those days that darkness took the forms of dragons, witches, and evil spirits; today that darkness can be interpreted more metaphorically.
It’s no coincidence that this time of year also marks the start of forest fire season here in the mountainous West. These raging infernos are a natural part of our landscape’s health; they serve an important purpose to burn debris, enrich the soil, and even kill disease and illness. The destructive fires leave room for new life and new growth, as is clear to see a year or two after a bad fire when the ground will be blanketed in green and blooming with fireweed and mullein. That’s not to say that these fires aren’t devastating -- for the lives lost they certainly are -- but such is the way of the Western forests, cycling through fires and refreshing the old.
You can call upon that purifying fire energy yourself, or simply celebrate the beauty of the lightest part of the year with amber honey and sun-kissed apricots. Celebrate the duality present right now with a fire and ice dessert: literally. Creamy non-dairy apricot ice cream is topped with flames for a fiery but cooling summer dessert. You can even add your own fire ritual to the dessert; its below all of the instructions for the ice cream and sugar cubes.
Apricot Ice Cream Torches
1 lb. apricots
1/3 c. - 1/2 c. honey, depending on the ripeness of the apricots and your personal taste
2 c. coconut cream or light cream
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt
sugar cubes (use store-bought ones or make your own, below)
high-proof alcohol such as rum or vodka
slices of apricots or nectarines, for serving
- Preheat oven to 375F and prepare a baking try with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Slice the apricots into quarters and remove the pits. Place them on the sheet pan and roast until they are soft, about 20 minutes. Let the apricots cool.
- Puree the cooled apricots in a blender or food processor. Add the coconut cream, vanilla, salt, and honey and blend well.
- Freeze in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Eat immediately as soft serve or spoon into a bowl and freeze for a couple of hours before scooping and serving.
- To serve, place one sugar cube per person into a small dish and pour a few drops of high-proof alcohol over the top. The sugar cubes will need a couple of minutes to become fully saturated with alcohol. While they are soaking, arrange slices of nectarine or apricot in each serving glass, then top with scoops of ice cream. Place one soaked sugar cube on top of each serving of ice cream, then quickly light each sugar cube with a long-handled lighter. (Note: it’s best if this dessert is served in almost total darkness!) Let the fire burn out completely before enjoying your delicious ice cream. Also, be warned that the sugar cube will be very hot. Let it cool before handling it or eating it!
- A note: please use common sense and safety when serving this dessert! Let the fire burn out on its own; don't try to blow it. Be careful not to get any alcohol on your skin or clothes as they'll become very flammable. Be cautious if carrying the flaming desserts to another location. Use heat-safe bowls or glasses for serving.
Homemade saffron sugar cubes
Making prettily-shaped yellow sugar cubes is quite easy, you just have to wait a bit to allow them to fully dry. Place a pinch of saffron threads into a small dish and top with 1 tsp. almond extract. Let sit for about half an hour to infuse the extract and turn it yellow. Then mix the almond extract into 1/2 c. sugar until the sugar is uniformly moist. (You may need to add a bit more sugar if your mixture is too soft.) Spoon the moist sugar into plastic candy molds and press in firmly - you need to really pack it in. Allow the sugar cubes to dry for several hours or overnight. Then, carefully invert the mold over a cutting board and gently lift the mold off of the sugar bon bons. Let them sit for at least an hour or until completely dry.
Fire Ceremony for New Starts
small slip of paper and a pen
apricot torch ice cream
- While your ice cream is freezing, reflect on what parts of your life you’d like to refresh. What is no longer serving you that you’d like to release? Get clear and specific, then write those things down on a small piece of paper.
- As you light the flaming ice cream, focus on the flames. Feel that hot fire energy feel your body and your belly. Picture it growing to fill you.
- Carefully light one corner of your paper off of the burning torch on your dessert. Place it in a heat-proof bowl to continue burning to ashes. As the paper burns out and your dessert keeps burning, picture that fire clearing out anything heavy or extra that you’ve been carrying around. Picture what your life feels like with these things burned to ashes. How does your body feel? Are you excited for what can now fill the room that’s made?
- Once your dessert has put itself out, indulge in the cooling, summery ice cream. Let it quench any remaining fire energy inside you to feel soothed, calm, and optimistic. Soon the areas of your life that have been released will be blooming with new life and new hope.
I hope all of you have a bright, optimistic, renewing Summer Solstice!
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