So clearly I’m a Halloween geek. I’ve spent the last couple of days contemplating all sorts of Halloween mayhem that I can share with you all. I’m still working on perfecting a chocolate spider egg concoction, but in the mean time I wanted to share another creepy, easy recipe for your Halloween party. It’s on the sweet side, you could say, but I’m pretty pleased with the outcome. (I also have some mean Halloween-themed cocktails coming up next week, including my favorite: the Bloody Squid.)
I don’t know about you, but I get a little tired of seeing the same Halloween eyeball recipes. You know what I’m talking about–many of them use one similar ingredient: olives. And while savory eyeballs are all well and good, if you’re into that, I wanted something that could compliment the sweeter side of the season.
So, this is a recipe I call Sweet Judy’s Blue Eyes (taken from the song/songs by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young). There are two main components to this: marzipan (or, alternatively fondant, if you are not into the whole almond thing) and white chocolate.
I recommend getting real white chocolate, the stuff made with actual cocoa butter, and not the white melty stuff that’s made of partially hydrogenated soybean oil. Not only does the real stuff taste better—the white brick of meltable sugar and oil burns my throat—but it seems to hold up better to heat. Last year, I destroyed two of those bricks in the microwave, following instructions to the letter. They charred and went brown and stunk up the whole house. After that debacle, I far prefer the ability to maintain the right heat over a double-boiler.
If you decide to use fondant instead of marzipan, I recommend making it yourself. The stuff at the store is insanely expensive, and in my experience doesn’t taste nearly as good as the stuff you can make yourself (read: the stuff I once used tasted like sweet paper and, while pretty on the cake, was not a hit). Since I’m going on a fondant binge tomorrow (preparing a geeky cake for my husband’s birthday) I thought I’d cut corners and get some marzipan paste in a tube. It only has a few ingredients, and holds up pretty well. But honestly, if I was going to do this again I’d probably go with my own fondant; fondant is much more pliable, and easier to get smooth. The marzipan was very off-white and far grainier. (My favorite fondant recipe is here, if you’re feeling adventurous.)
- So, step one: melt a few ounces of your chocolate in a double boiler. Don’t have a double boiler? You don’t need to go out and purchase an expensive one. Take a metal bowl, and set it over a pan of simmering hot water. Voila! Take care not to overheat the chocolate, as it’ll start to separate and get pretty nasty.
- Have prepared: parchment paper (your best friend in chocolate making); a frosting bag with tip; a cloth.
- Once the chocolate is melted, add a few drops of food coloring of your choice. I wanted blue eyes, so I used aquamarine I had from a Duff Goldman food coloring kit. But if you want brown, you can always use regular chocolate.
- Fill the frosting bag with chocolate, use the aforementioned cloth as a barrier between your hands and the bag because it’s going to be hot. Be careful. If you’ve overheated the chocolate, it might melt the bag. So let the chocolate cool slightly, by removing the double boiler from the burner, and stirring it.
- Pipe little circles onto the parchment paper, smaller than an inch in diameter (but depending on your eyes, you can do whatever size you want). For more lizardine eyes, go for ovals. Leave a hole in the middle. (The letter o’s in the picture up top are the top sides of the irises I made.)
- Cool the irises. Once they’re brittle (I usually leave them over night) you can handle them better—but keep in mind they can break, and melt. Parchment paper really is the best way to ensure a safe retrieval of the chocolate. Wax paper might melt, and anything else requires lots of greasing.
- Start molding your marzipan. It’s basically sugar dough, and once it warms a little you can easily make little balls out of it. Think Play-Doh and you’re good to go
- Cut an indented hole in the top by positioning a knife in the middle and sawing away at an angle in a circle. Sort of like you might if you’re coring a tomato.
- Put one chocolate chip in the deepest indentation, then press the iris down around it. Gentle, now. It’ll mold together pretty well.
- Cut food coloring (blue and red) with high proof alcohol. This is important to remember. If you use water, you’ll end up melting the sugar and the end result will be rather ugly.
- With a very small paint brush, use the blue food coloring to accent the irises, the red to make veins. Get as detailed as you like. Use some red vines to make nerves behind the eyes, if you like!
And there you go! These work great on cakes, cupcakes, or just alone. Sure, they’re sweet enough to knock your teeth out, but we are talking about Halloween here: the holiday of candy! I wanted them to look as biologically correct as possible, so they’re a little glossy. If you really wanted to go hard core, you could use a gelatin glaze over them for a lens. For a frightening presentation, consider skewering them on stakes or using them to decorate cocktails.
Stay tuned for more Halloween wackiness, courtesy of your friendly neighborhood Halloween geek!
Do you have any ghastly recipes to share? Do you like mixing science with your scary? Let us know!