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).
Yield 6-8 eyeballs
for the gelling solution
- 3 cups purified cold water
- 1 tsp sodium alginate
for the eyeballs
- 6 oz. vegan yogurt (I used So Delicious Plain Greek Cultured Almond Milk)
- 1 tsp calcium lactate (yes, it’s vegan)
for the pupil/iris
- 6-8 blueberries
- 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.