Active time: under 30 minutes
Passive time: 30 minutes, to allow the gelling solution to settle
Yields: 6-8 eyeballs
I’m still kind of burnt out from September’s VeganMoFo, so it was fun to switch gears and come up with a recipe concept for Halloween that’s meant to be gross. After some thought, I got the idea to make squishy eyeballs using reverse spherification, which is something I haven’t done in a while. I used some vegan yogurt to make the white part of the eye, then pressed chocolate chips into blueberries to create an iris and pupil, which I then pressed into the sturdy but malleable ravioli to create a disembodied, yolk-like eyeball.
These are fun and creepy on their own, but look especially gruesome when nicely plated and paired with a glass of port, à la Hannibal Lecter style. These ravioli are sturdy enough to handle, but the thin membrane around them pops easily on the tongue, making it a cool and semi-disturbing idea that’s perfect for Halloween parties (but not so much for tossing into trick-or-treater’s bags).
for the pupil/iris
6-8 chocolate chips (I used Guittard brand)
cherry or beet juice
To make the gelling solution, fill a large measuring cup with the purified cold water. Add in the sodium alginate and blend for a full minute with an immersion blender. Allow to sit undisturbed for about 30 minutes to allow the air bubbles to settle.
To make the eyeballs, place the yogurt and calcium lactate into a small bowl. Stir with a spoon until well combined, then set aside.
Find a drinking glass with a circular base, no more than 2-3 inches in diameter. Pour enough of the sodium alginate solution to create a very thin film on the bottom of the glass, then drop a heaping tablespoon of the yogurt into the glass. It has to be dropped carefully and in one shot to achieve a perfect spherical shape.
Now, tip the glass to a 45-degree angle, then very slowly pour more solution over the top until it’s covered, then slowly raise it back up to a 90-degree level (sort of like pouring a beer carefully into a glass).
Next, swirl the sphere around in a circular motion for about 30 seconds to create the spherical shape. (It may look at little misshapen, but it will smooth out nicely once placed on a flat surface.) Set it down and leave the ravioli undisturbed in the glass for about a minute.
By now, the sphere should be very sturdy. Pour the solution and sphere into your hand, then rinse it off under cold water, then place it into a bowl of clean cold water while you make the rest of the spheres.
To make the iris/pupil portion, make a small “x” at the top end of a blueberry. Press a chocolate chip into the center, and repeat until you have 6-8 of them. You could also use different kinds of sliced fruit like green or purple grapes or sliced raspberries to make different eye colors.
Remove the spheres from the water and place on a plate or in a bowl. Lightly press the blueberries into the sphere, taking care not to break it in the process. Drizzle with beet or cherry juice, if desired.
You can make these a day ahead if you want. Just store the spheres in cold purified water in the refrigerator and assemble them with the fruit and chocolate right before serving.