I’m up to my eyeballs in all things CREEPY because it’s HALLOWEEN WEEK!
I love spooky dishes that look disgusting but still taste pretty delicious. All eyes will be on this eerie dessert that’s for sure!
The whites of the eyes are made from a simple panna cotta gelatin and are served in a bloody looking strawberry glaze. While this dish does require some patience, it’s certainly more simple than it appears at first glance.
A Feast for the EYES
These eyeballs contain a few different steps that need to happen simultaneously.
For the Irises:
- whole peeled kiwis, cut in half – for the green color of the iris
Cut the kiwis in half so that the pit is in the center and they can be easily peeled. I leveled off the bottom of the rounded end of the kiwi so that it could be flat with the surface of the liquid when poured. Then I used a melon baller to remove the white pit/core in the center. However, you will want to keep the pit in the center while setting the panna cotta as it will otherwise fill with the liquid and be hard to remove.
I ended up testing a few different shapes and sizes of bowls and found that ‘mise en place’ bowls of various sizes worked as long as they had a flat enough bottom of the kiwi to fit in completely face flat down. The rest of the size just depends on how much panna cotta to fruit ratio you want to serve to your guests.
I also tested out using circular shaped cookie cutters to get a perfectly circular shape to the kiwi irises – and while this is definitely a cleaner look, this step isn’t always necessary if you have perfectly ripe kiwis.
For the Whites:
Other recipes may call for coconut or coconut milk to be used, but for this recipe we want to highlight the fruity flavors of the iris and strawberry glaze.
- gelatin – to hold the shape of the eye molds (aka bowls)
- milk & heavy cream – to give a smooth taste and texture to the gelatin
- sugar – for sweetness
- strawberry kiwi flavoring – to flavor the whites of the eyes (you can also use plain vanilla for an aged eye look)
With the kiwi halves face down in the bowls, and the pits in the middles, I poured the liquid panna cotta over the kiwi so that the liquid only just barely covered the entire kiwi. This was helpful to prevent the kiwi from floating in the bowls while also ensuring a flat bottom.
When it comes to setting the panna cotta, I chilled mine until they no longer wobbled. If you add a touch extra gelatin to the milk mix, it will set more quickly and have a more Jell-O-like consistency.
For the Pupils:
- black raisins – for the pupils
- rum – to rehydrate the raisin pupils
Soak the raisins in the rum overnight for best results!
Once the panna cotta is set in the bowls, I gently placed the bowls in a larger bowl of warm water to release the gelatin from the sides. The bowls only need to touch the warm liquid for a few seconds in order to release the gelatin. Then carefully flip the bowls and gently use a spoon or spatula to help the eyes release fully from the bowls.
When the eyes are flipped out onto the plate, the kiwi face should be exposed and it should be easy to pop out the center pit. Fill eash center with the rum soaked raisins and press down lightly to fill in the space completely.
For the BLOOD:
- store bought or homemade strawberry (or raspberry) glaze – for this recipe, I used a store-bought variety of strawberry glaze to spread on the serving platter
If you don’t feel like making your own coulis then store-bought is perfectly acceptable. I found a simple strawberry glaze and used it to create a bloody streak across the serving tray. For extra creepy eyes, use some glaze in a piping baggie to make veins on the eyes!
This recipe was based off of this Creepy Coconut Kiwi Panna Cotta recipe that looks way better than mine turned out in the end. Their recipe even has a creepy lens on top to really sell the eyeball effect!
Halloween Panna Cotta EYEBALLS (Easy Method)
- In a small bowl, cover the raisin in rum and soak overnight until the raisins are lightly rehydrated.
- Bloom the gelatin in hot water according to the instruction on the box and set aside.
- Cut the kiwis in half and use a spoon to peel the skin off the fruit. Then use an melon baller to remove the white center of each kiwi. Return the kiwi ball core back to the center then place the kiwi cored-side-down in a round bowl with a flat bottom.
- On the stovetop in a small sauce pan combine the milk, heavy cream and sugar. Bring to a rolling simmer and stir until the sugar is dissolved completely. Remove from the heat and stir in the strawberry kiwi extract. Stir in the bloomed gelatin.
- Pour the milk mixture over the kiwis in the bowl molds so that the milk just barely covers the tops of the kiwis. Place in the fridge and chill until set, about one hour (or longer, for better results).
- When the panna cotta is set and no longer wobbly, dip the bowls into a larger bowl with warm water in it. This will lightly melt the edges of the panna cotta enough for it to release from the bowls. Flip the bowls over to release the panna cotta completely.
- Warm the glaze according to the instructions on the packaging and spread generously on the serving plates as 'blood' – then transfer each eye to its serving plate using a flat spatula. Remove the white core/center and place 8-10 rum soaked raisins in the middle. Press down gently to create a convincing pupil in the center. Serve immediately. Happy Halloween!