Bubblegum Flavoured Panna Cotta and Jelly Eyeballs – *Halloween Special*

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Throwing a Halloween party and looking for something special to tempt your guests with? Or what about simply freaking out the kids who dare to come Trick or Treating? Well, have I got something for you…

Okay, so here’s the admission – it took me three goes to get these right. That’s good news for you because I’ve already made the mistakes, and the resulting recipe is dead easy.

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Voila! Enough to ewwww! the most seasoned Halloween goer!

What you need:

500 ml of cream

250 ml of milk

½ cup caster sugar

Bubblegum flavouring

Gelatine Powder

Various food colours

Ice cube trays with rounded bottoms

Spray oil

Wooden skewer

Flat bottomed, plastic container

Small, round cutter – I used the end of a piping nozzle.

Fine paintbrush

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Jelly and moulds

How it’s done:

Mix about a cup of boiling water with a tablespoon of gelatine, stirring well to get all the lumps out. Add a couple of drops of your desired iris colour – I found pale blue to be the most (ahem) authentic. Pour into the flat bottomed plastic container and refrigerate. This mix shouldn’t be more than 3mm thick.

While the iris mix is setting, pour the cream and milk into a small saucepan and, while stirring, bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and add caster sugar, stirring until it dissolves. Remove from heat and add the bubblegum flavouring (I used ‘Robert’s Confectionary’ brand, and found I needed about 2 capfuls to get enough flavour). Refrigerate.

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Cute Eyeballs

Your iris mix will be set by now, so remove it from the fridge and run the wooden skewer around the outside of your jelly mix. It will lift easily out of the plastic container and feel quite rubbery. Place it on a sheet of greaseproof paper, and with the round cutter, stamp out as many ‘irises’ as you need. Lightly grease the ice-cube trays with spray oil, and place one iris piece at the bottom of each rounded cube.

Your bubblegum cream mixture will be chilled by now (very important not to use it hot – it will melt your irises), so remove it from the fridge. Add about half a cup of the mixture back into the saucepan, along with 3 tablespoons of gelatine. Stir over a low heat until the gelatine is dissolved. Now, workingvery quickly (it will set fast) add the warm mixture back into the chilled cream mix. Stir or whisk to combine. Making sure the entire mixture is cool or at least room temperature, add a teaspoon or so to each ice-cube mould, pouring directly over your jelly iris. Refrigerate again.

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Eyeballing!

Once set, gently remove your eyeballs from the ice cube trays, again using the skewer. Place flat on the tray or plate that you plan to serve them on. Add a couple of drops of black food colouring to a small glass, and with a fine paintbrush, dab a little in the middle of each iris, to form the pupil. Store covered in cling wrap in the fridge.

I found the eyeballs looked most authentic the next day, after some of the colour had leached into the cream mix, and the black food colour had soaked in. If you’re feeling particularly creative, you could always serve these with a drizzle of red food dye, or even mashed up raspberries on the side.

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Dah dah!

Glass Shard Cupcakes

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With only a few weeks until Halloween, I thought this would be a good time to share some of my favourite – but kind of gruesome – recipes for your Halloween party. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be posting both sweet and savoury recipes of the very dark kind, along with others of the more cheerful kind (unless you have an aversion to fairgrounds and clowns, that is…)

Today we’ll kick things off with Glass Shard Cupcakes. As usual, I’ve used a few ‘cheats’ where possible.

Glass cupcakes_1What you need:

1 x chocolate cake mix. I used White Wings brand.

1 x Betty Crocker vanilla frosting.

1 x packet of clear Isomalt Sticks – available from any cake decorating suppliers or online.

1 x Red Queen brand ‘Writing Icing’. Comes in a pack of 4 tubes, available at the supermarket.

Black food colouring.

How it’s done:

Make up a batch of chocolate cupcakes according to the packet instructions. Allow to completely cool.

Glass cupcakes_2Isomalt Glass Shards:

I use the ‘Cake Play’ brand of Isomalt sticks. It’s meltable, mouldable candy. It can be coloured as well as flavoured, but for this recipe I used it straight. It’s brilliant for so many different decorating ideas, but especially candy glass. A little on the expensive side at around $15 for a packet of 12 sticks, so it’s worth trying to catch them on special or online. Using Isomalt is a bit daunting at first, but, like working with chocolate, once you get the hang of it, a whole new world of ideas is opened up to you.

Prepare a flat surface with a large sheet of baking paper.

For this recipe, I used 6 Isomalt sticks. Snap each stick into 2 or 3 pieces, and add to a microwave safe container. I use a coffee mug because it has a handle and this stuff gets HOT. *Don’t even think about sticking your finger in there!*

In increments of about 10 seconds at a time, melt your Isomalt in the microwave, until it’s completely liquefied and bubbling. Since each microwave is different, the time could vary. Give it a good, quick stir with a metal spoon. Working very quickly – Isomalt hardens again fast – pour the candy mixture onto your baking paper and smooth out as thin and smoothly as possible in large pieces. Don’t panic if you get a few lumps or bumps. If you find the candy in your cup has hardened too quickly, just zap it back in the microwave for a few seconds.

Glass Cupcakes_5Your ‘sheets’ of melted Isomalt will be completely hard again in about 5 or 10 minutes (depending on room temp). Place another sheet of baking paper over the hardened candy, and with the heel of your hand, press down and crush carefully. It’s the best way to get bigger pieces. Lift from your baking paper and put aside in a bowl.

*Isomalt clean up is with hot water and elbow grease.

glass cupcakes_7Decorating:

Ice your cooled cupcakes with the pre-made vanilla frosting. This stuff saves a crazy amount of time and is DELICIOUS. Then, stick shards of candy glass into the cakes, making sure you use some smaller pieces as well as large ones. Try not to make this bit too even – a more haphazard style works better here.

To make up the ‘blood’, I squeezed about half a tube of the red ‘Writing Icing’ into a tiny shot glass. It’s too thick to use directly (we want the blood to drip and ooze) so I added a few drops of warm water. Unfortunately, this made the colour too bright – easy fixed with a single drop of black food colouring. The end result was a colour and texture very close to the real thing. I used a chop stick to both mix the ‘blood’ and also to drizzle it over the glass, as well as a few well-placed drops on the plate for effect.