The eyes are watching you-literally! This spookalicious panna cotta is covered with jelly eyes complete with eyelashes that will creep out your guests! It's a wobbly vanilla panna cotta with a strawberry sauce but don't let that delicious combination fool you-it's strictly spooky!
The panna cotta is the easiest part of this Halloween panna cotta. Just heat up cream, milk and sugar and add gelatine and stir and set. It's part of the reason why I rarely order panna cotta because it is so easy to make a delicious one at home.
Making the jelly eyes is straightforward but requires a bit of detail work. I use blueberries for the pupil and coloured jelly for the iris. The easiest colours to make are light blue and green. Don't make the colours too strongly coloured to make it more realistic. You can also use the cut side of the blueberry facing outward and it looks like a dragon's eye.
Once the eyeballs are made, I made the eyelashes. I use melted dark chocolate in a small parchment piping bag to trace out upper and lower eyelashes on baking parchment. Make these quite thick so that they will be easier to pick up, especially the eye line detail. Use tweezers to pick up the eyelashes. And before long you'll have your eyeballs, lashes and all!
I bought my jelly mould at a vintage store. The first thing I thought of when I saw it was its Halloween potential with eyeballs on top although you can just use a regular jelly mould and then a half sphere mould to make the eyes and stick them on top.
While this panna cotta would make me seem rather obsessed with eyes, another body part I am obsessive about is teeth. That includes my teeth, Mr NQN's teeth and Teddy's teeth. I'm very much all about good dental hygiene, flossing and brushing my teeth and now that we have Teddy, I want to make sure that his teeth are healthy because when dogs undergo dentals they have to go under anaesthetic which is best avoided (we almost lost Mochi while she was undergoing a dental exam).
We used to give Teddy a toothbrush and he would chew at it but then we quickly realised that he would swallow the bristles and then throw them up (we thought we'd landed a self-brushing dog for a hopeful second!).
So every night I take a baby toothbrush and slowly, slowly try and get him to open his mouth for me and I gently brush his tiny teeth. Each side of his teeth gets a dried chicken treat which is his favourite snack. I've been doing it for just over a month and now I just say "toothbrush training!" and shake the jar of treats and he hops up onto the blanket, lies on his side and lets me play dentist and brush his teeth!
So tell me Dear Reader, which body part are you obsessive about? Is there something that you don't order when you eat out because it's so easy to make?
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? Share your creations by tagging @notquitenigella on Instagram with the hashtag #notquitenigella
Halloween Eyeball Panna Cotta
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 30 minutes plus setting time
Cooking time: 5 minutes
For jelly eyeballs
- oil spray
- 3 small blueberries, halved
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 teaspoon gelatin powder
- A drop of blue food colouring
- 50g/1.7ozs dark chocolate
For Panna Cotta
- 2.5 teaspoons gelatine powder
- 1/4 cup water
- 1.5 cups/375ml/12.7flozs. cream
- 1.5 cups/375ml/12.7flozs. milk
- 1/2 cup caster or superfine sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Bloody Strawberry Sauce
- 125g/4ozs/ strawberries, washed and hulled
- 2 tablespoons sugar
Step 1 - If you have a jelly mould like mine (with cavities for eyes) you can start on the eyes as they are the first layer (see step 4). Otherwise make the panna cotta in a jelly mould and allow to set (my jelly mould was 750ml/25flozs.). The eyes don't take long to make.
Step 2 - To make the panna cotta sprinkle the gelatine powder evenly over the water in a shallow bowl. Microwave for 15 seconds until it is liquid and set aside. Heat the cream, milk and sugar in a small saucepan and heat until almost boiling. Add vanilla and then the gelatine water and stir to combine well. Cool for 20 minutes until much of the heat is taken out and then pour into the mold. I like to spray my molds with some oil just to make sure that it releases easily but the oil sometimes shows up. Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.
Step 3 - Make the strawberry sauce. Blend the strawberries and sugar together and then heat in a small saucepan on medium heat. Simmer for 5 minutes. Cool completely (you can strain the puree too if you want it very smooth).
Step 4 - To make the jelly eyeballs sprinkle the gelatine powder over the water and microwave for 10 seconds. Add the blue colouring. Place the blueberries in the cavities (use a small half sphere shaped ice cube tray too) and then spoon in the blue colouring. Place in fridge and allow to set (around 10 minutes, it should set quickly). Carefully remove the eyes from the mould and place on top of jelly.
Step 5 - To make eyelashes, melt the chocolate and place in a small parchment piping bag. Pipe eyelashes onto a tray lined with parchment making upper and lower sets of lashes. Place in freezer to set. Using tweezers, apply the eyelashes to the outside of the eyeball.