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Making an Ice Bowl with Bougainvilliea

ice bowl-2240-2Every time I step out into the garden I cannot help but admire the vibrant colours of Bougainvillea. For special occasions I love to make ice bowls and sometimes decorate them with the colourful papery leaves of Bougainvillea. Serving cold foods in decorated ice bowls adds a sophisticated touch to special occasions and will deliver a few oohs and ahhas from your guests. I was first inspired by the idea of making ice bowls after reading about a restaurant that made them for their dessert trolley, to serve ice cream from, loved the idea and have made ice bowls since.

Ice bowls are easy to make and no special molds are required (although handy if you come across them), all you need is a pair (or pairs) of nesting bowls. Sometimes I make one large ice bowl as a centerpiece for the table and other times I make individual ice bowls for serving, depending on the occasion. As Bougainvillea is non edible I place a smaller glass dish inside the ice bowl, so the food will not come in contact with the leaves… just to be on the safe side. Other times I place the food directly into the ice bowl when using edible decorations. Only limited by your imagination, ice bowls and can be decorated with flowers, herbs, fruits, sweets and whole spices. Wonderful for serving prawns, ice creams, sorbet, chilled soups and fruit. ice bowl-2272

A few ice bowl tips:

  • Make sure you have enough room in your freezer to accommodate the ice bowls. Ceramic, metal and glass bowls can be used, make sure they are suitable for the freezer.
  • Using bottled water makes a more transparent ice, using drinkable tap water gives a frosted look.
  • Adding lots of decorations makes the ice bowl melt faster.
  • Make sure the inside space between the two bowls is at least half an inch to three-quarters of an inch, the thicker the ice bowl the longer it will last.
  • Water expands, do not fill the bowls completely with water, over filling makes the ice bowl harder to remove.
  • Do not stand the bowl in hot water when removing the ice bowl, this will crack the ice bowl.
  • When serving place the ice bowl on a suitable plate, to catch water as it melts. Also you might want to fold a small square of kitchen paper to place under the ice bowl, stops it from sliding around, the kitchen paper also absorbs some of the melting ice. A napkin or doily can also be placed under the ice bowl.
  • Food placed into the ice bowl should be thoroughly chilled.

Ice Bowl collage Making and Ice Bowl

You will need:

  • 2 bowls that fit inside each other, with 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch gap at the sides
  • cold bottled water
  • strong sticky tape
  • decorations of your choice, rinsed with water

 Directions: Fill the larger bowl part way with cold water. Place the smaller bowl inside and fill with water, to weigh it down until the top of both bowls are level. Use pieces of sticky tape to secure the small bowl (make sure it is centered) from moving around. Add decorations to the sides and gently push them down using the handle of a spoon, if necessary. Freeze the mold overnight or for 24 hours if making a larger bowl.

When completely frozen remove the bowl from the freezer and allow to stand for around 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the inner bowl, it should twist easily around the ice. Turn the larger bowl upside down on a clean work surface and shake the bowl gently with your fingers placed underneath, to catch the ice bowl when released. I usually do this ahead of time and place the ice bowl back into the freezer on a tray lined with non-stick paper until needed.

11 thoughts on “Making an Ice Bowl with Bougainvilliea

  1. Reminds me of a very memorable surprise ‘leaving’ Bahrain lunch that Lynn and Trevor hosted for Nigel and I in 2001, and the even bigger surprise was that you had prepared the buffet lunch and the amazing bougainvillea ice bowls for the dessert. Fantastic food and presentation as only Moya can do. Miss your fantastic cooking Moya, but I have tried some of your recent posts, thank you. Sue xx


    1. Yes Sue you were surprised! I remember packing up cool boxes with lots of ice as Lynn did not have enough space in her freezer to accommodate the ice bowls… thankfully the cool boxes saved the day. It was so lovely being part of your memorable surprise, which I so enjoyed catering for and thank you for your lovely comments. Best wishes from across the waters xx 🙂


    1. Thank you Lizzy, the bougainvillea ice bowls are so pretty and worth the effort for that special occasion. I always imagine that you have a wonderful array of colorful flowers growing in your garden that would look fabulous in any ice bowl. 🙂 🙂


  2. This is fantastic! I will be keeping this in mind for the next dinner party to impress the guests 😉 Have pinned for later – thank you for sharing and for the inspiration


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