The cornucopia has its roots in ancient Greek mythology. While it has many mythological origin stories, the one told most frequently is associated with the god Zeus. In order to protect the divine babe from the vengeful god Kronos, he was hidden in Mount Ida on the island of Crete and nourished by the goat god Amalthea.
During one of his sucking sessions, the overzealous baby broke off one of Amalthea’s horns which was transformed into a divine vessel of abundance and plenty, finding a prominent place on celebration and holiday tables ever since.
The virtues of plenty, fertility, and prosperity have always been associated with the cornucopia, making it a natural fit for harvest festivities. Its name is derived from the Latin words “cronu,” or horn, and “copia,” which means plenty. It has been associated with Thanksgiving since the holiday’s inception and often graces the table in the form of a woven wicker basket.
The goodies that spill from the cornucopia vary with the region and the era but vegetables, fruit, nuts, grain, and flowers have always been favorites. Here are six ideas for making your own edible cornucopia and recipes for what to put inside.
1. Bread Cornucopia: This is an easy way to add drama to the table with a few everyday household items. To make the cornucopia, wrap multiple layers of aluminum foil around a plastic water bottle, using the opening as the tip of the cornucopia. Continue layering and shaping the aluminum foil until it is strong enough to hold its shape and resembles a cone. Remove the water bottle and shape and bend the cone into a cornucopia.
Wrap ready-to-bake breadsticks around the foil until the entire cone is covered. Each layer should slightly overlap the next to hold the cornucopia together once the foil cone is removed after baking. Gently press each layer into the next for even more stability.
For added flourish, cut one of the breadsticks into thirds lengthwise and braid it. Use this piece to rim the opening of your cornucopia, stretching the braid to make it fit. Press the ends together tightly.
Follow the baking instructions on the package. Once the bread is golden brown and cooked through, remove it from the oven and let the cornucopia cool to room temperature. Gently remove the foil coin. Fill the cornucopia with your favorite ingredients.
2. Herbed Cornucopia: Follow the instructions from the first cornucopia idea. Once the breadsticks have been wrapped around the foil cone. Press herbs such as rosemary, thyme, and oregano leaves into the bread before baking. Follow the rest of the baking and cooling instructions.
3. Puffed Pastry Cornucopia: Follow the instructions from the first cornucopia idea. Swap out the breadsticks for puff pastry. Working quickly, slice the puff pastry into long strips and wrap them around the foil cone, following the method from step one.
For added flavor, sprinkle the puff pastry with grated cheese such as Parmesan or Romano. Bake the cornucopia according to the puff pastry baking instructions and follow the same cooling instructions.
4. Pizza Cornucopia: Follow the instructions from the first cornucopia idea. Swap out the breadsticks for ready-to-bake pizza dough. Working quickly, slice the pizza dough into long strips and wrap them around the foil cone, following the method from step one.
Brush the dough with pizza sauce, sprinkle with dried oregano, powdered garlic, and grated cheese such as Parmesan or Romano. Bake the cornucopia according to the pizza dough baking instructions and follow the same cooling instructions.
5. Cinnamon Roll Cornucopia: Follow the instructions from the first cornucopia idea. Swap out the breadsticks for ready-to-bake cinnamon rolls. Working quickly, unroll each roll into a strip and wrap them around the foil cone, following the method from step one.
Follow the baking instructions on the package. Once golden brown and cooked through, remove it from the oven and let the cornucopia cool to room temperature. Gently remove the foil coin. Drizzle the cornucopia with warm icing.
6. Ice Cream Cone Cornucopia: Use large sugar ice cream cones for the cornucopias. Dip the tops in melted chocolate and sprinkle with grated coconut.
Breadsticks spilling from one of the breaded or puff pastry ideas is a graceful, enticing way to fill a cornucopia. This recipe is comprised of just a few simple ingredients that belie the nuanced flavor. Get the recipe.
Chicken bites are already an addictive snack for children and adults alike. When they’re baked with Parmesan and spilling from a breaded cornucopia, they’re irresistible. Serve the dipping sauce alongside your bites for a true feeling of plenty. Get the recipe.
Baking helps keep these addictive risotto balls healthy and pesto ratchets up the Italian flavor. They’re perfect as filling for one of the breaded cornucopias but for a truly over the top experience, stuff them into the pizza cornucopia alongside the suggested dipping sauce for a dish that will delight all ages. Get the recipe.
Kids can’t resist baked mozzarella sticks and when served inside the pizza or one of the breaded cornucopias, it’s an over-the-top after school or celebratory meal snacking experience. This recipe keeps it simple by using mozzarella cheese sticks as their base and amplifies the crunchy texture with the addition of panko. Get the recipe.
Brunch has never been more fun than when it includes a cinnamon roll cornucopia with cinnamon roll cake pops spilling from it. This recipe drizzles the icing on top of the pops but to serve them inside a cornucopia, place a small bowl of pop sticks alongside in addition to a bowl of icing. Instruct guests to create their pop and then dip it in the icing. Get the recipe.
Few things are more alluring than a sugar cone cornucopia dipped in chocolate and filled with these truffle flavor bombs of coconut and chocolate. The ancient Greeks might be horrified by this twist on their beloved cornucopia but everyone in your family will be thrilled to be served this treat for dessert. Get the recipe.
Header image courtesy of Chica and Jo.