Seafoam as Portal (With Mermaid Chia Pudding)
Have you ever watched the waves roll in and noticed the luminescent color of sunlight shining through a sliver of the ocean? Some days it is gray and some days it is a vibrant crystal blue like topaz but always it feels like an invitation. Come closer, it says, dive into the deep. Just as you feel tempted to dive in and explore, you are snapped back to reality by the chill of a wave covering your bare feet.
The seafoam that tickles your shins and toes is a threshold guardian. It knows of the pleasant sunny beach day it is sharing with you, but it is churned from the depths of a massive and terrifying landscape.
Perhaps this is why I have such an unending fascination with the Intertidal Zone: the magical intersection of safe, understandable land and powerful, terrifying ocean. Barnacles appear hard and rock-tough when seen at low tide, but when viewed under the water their delicate, feather-like appendages appear, moving gracefully in the gentle water. Powerful waves crash down on rocks, emitting thunderous roars and geysers of spray. And yet somehow the delicate anemones, so sensitive as to recoil from one little brush of a finger, remain undamaged and un-phased when the waves roll out again. I admire the resilience of these magical creatures, and I admire the many personalities of the ocean.
On one side: huge tidal waves, heavy and dense and black, come rolling in and crashing down in a thunderous roar overwhelming cities and snatching away lives. Trees snap under the weight of so much water, buildings crumble, lives are crushed. Water like that is so unbearably and unimaginably heavy. It is a powerful force and one to be feared - a heaviness we can’t even comprehend.
But under that heaviness is a strange serene safety. As a storm rages and waves crash on the surface, a bed of life is barely affected below. A pearl is nestled safely in a soft bed of muscular mollusk tissue, warm and safe in its little womb. Kelp fronds dance in the waves, securely rooted to the ocean floor. If one was to curl up on a bed of soft seaweed down in the depths, the rolling waves above would gently rock you into a soothing sleep as little bubbles rise around you and move to the surface to be churned into seafoam.
Seafoam is an interesting substance, this blanket between worlds that tickles coastlines and blows in ocean breezes. It is formed when dissolved organic matter in the ocean is churned up and is usually a sign of a healthy ocean ecosystem, showing the natural processes of decay that feeds new life. Seafoam is a small indication of the workings of the ocean, the cycles of life, the movement of currents, the churning up of the depths.
This lovely dessert, breakfast, or snack is based on that oceanic inspiration, with layers of blue as bright as the ocean and a flavor reminiscent of spring sea breezes blowing from distant lands and across beachside gardens. A topping of whipped cream and a “petrified seafoam” sugar crisp elevates it to something truly special. The coloring of this dessert is completely natural, thanks to butterfly pea flowers and blue spirulina - which is spirulina that’s been processed to extract the blue pigment. It retains many of the same nourishing qualities of green spirulina, without the overwhelming fishy taste. The kind I get from RawNice tastes mildly nutty.
Petrified Seafoam Sugar Crisps:
This decoration is surprisingly easy to make as long as you have the right ingredient! This recipe calls for Isomalt, a slightly different kind of sugar made from sugar beets. It is less sensitive to moisture and has slightly different properties than normal cane sugar so it’s possible to create forms such as these. Be sure to make these ahead of time so you can apply them to the cake when it’s finished. Be aware that if you live in a humid climate, these can soften over time. It’s best to store them between layers of waxed paper in an airtight container.
2 silicone baking mats
coffee grinder or mortar and pestle
Preheat your oven to 350F. While it is heating up, grind some of your isomalt sugar in a spice grinder or coffee grinder into a fine powder.
Place one of the silicone baking mats on a cookie sheet, and sift the powdered isomalt onto it. You cant to make small circles with the powder, about 2” across. The sifted powder wafers should be about 3mm thick.
Once you’ve filled the sheet with powdered wafers, gently place another silicone baking mat on top of the powder and bake for 8 minutes. Allow to cool completely on the pan before pulling back the upper silicone mat. You should discover lovely bubbly forms!
This technique does take a little experimenting; you may find that you need a thinner or thicker application of powdered isomalt depending on the desired effect. If 8 minutes isn’t long enough for the isomalt to melt all the way in your oven, simply increase the time.
Layered Chia Pudding Parfaits
4 c. milk of choice (I used homemade almond milk.)
1 c. spring floral syrup
8 Tbs. chia seeds
4 pinches salt
Pinch butterfly pea powder
1 ½ tsp. Blue spirulina powder, divided
½ tsp. Butterfly pea powder
Divide the milk into 4 small jars with 1 c. in each container. Add ¼ c. spring floral syrup and 1 pinch salt to each as well. Mix well.
Into container #1, add one pinch of butterfly pea powder. Stir well. Into container #2, add ½ tsp. Blue spirulina powder. Stir well. Into container #3 add 1 tsp. Blue spirulina powder. Into container #4 add ½ tsp. Butterfly pea powder.
Add 2 Tbs. chia seeds to each jar and shake well.
Place the jars in the fridge overnight to set.
Layer the various colors of blue chia pudding in clear jars or cups. (It’s okay if the layers are uneven, it’ll look like ocean waves!) Top with whipped cream and an isomalt crisp. Serve immediately.
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*New to foraging and don’t know where to start? Check out this blog post on Foraging 101!