The weather is turning cool; the leaves are falling in variant hues! Its time to get into the holiday spirit with:
Newb | Apprentice | Journeyman | Master
Lotsa mess, lotsa tools, lotsa steps, lotsa colors… totally worth it!
Box of white cake Food coloring
Oil Spoons / forks
Water Microwavable bowl or double boiler
Eggs Cookie sheet
Almond bark (vanilla) Parchment paper
Vanilla frosting Popsicle sticks or similar
Assorted bowls both big and small
Baking pans – 9 x 13 or two 8″ rounds
Q tips or paintbrush
Something to hold sticks upright such as:
~a foam block
~cake pop tray
~small cardboard box with holes in it
Get your mise en place on for this one for sure. Do it. Now. Get your stuff together and organize it in a way that makes sense to you. Then, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
First things first: prepare your cake mix according to package directions. Mine called for 1 1/4 cup water, 1/3 cup oil, and 3 egg whites. Mix them all together in a big bowl, with a smaller bowl standing by.
Now we’re going to half the batter and color it. You can choose whatever colors you’d like, but I’m going for a Halloween theme so I chose green and purple. Both make for a gross inside of an eyeball.
After splitting your batter evenly between the two bowls, color each bowl with a few drops of dye. I used gel food coloring for this step because it tends to hold its color better when mixed into batters or frosting, but the liquids do just fine and are generally pretty inexpensive. Mix your food coloring into the batter with a fork or spoon thoroughly until the color is fully incorporated.
After adding the color, line the bottom of your baking pan with parchment paper. This stuff is made of magic. Your cakes will come out of the pan so easily! If you want to make doubly sure of easy release, spray the parchment lined pan with cooking spray.
Pour each colored batter into a separate pan. Place in your oven to bake according to your cake mix package. Mine spent about 25 minutes in the dry sauna!
Your cakes are done when you can poke it with a toothpick or fork and it comes out clean. Place the pans out to cool for about 15 minutes.
While the cakes are cooling, its time to color your frosting! I went matchy-matchy with mine – I wanted a vivid green and a vivid purple – but again, use your discretion and be creative! Split your frosting evenly between two bowls and add food coloring as you did for the cakes. Mix thoroughly and set aside.
Are your cakes done cooling? Awesome! Flip them out of the pan onto a clean surface or cooling rack. Let them chill there for about 10 more minutes or until they are only warm to the touch.
While the cakes are hanging out pan-less on the counter, do yourself a favor and wash some bowls. Both you and your dishwasher will thank you later. Trust me, you’ll need them!
Right about then your lazy sous chef will finally show up…
When the bowls are washed and dried and the cakes are a bit cooler, its hulk-smash time! Take your cake and crumble it into a big bowl. The whole thing. Make it bits of fluff. Pull apart any chunks from the edges into pinky-nail sizes pieces or smaller. I find sometimes that running a fork through the crumble bowl helps pull apart any stick together chunks.
When you’ve crumbled, add the frosting to the bowl and mix together until you have an even, dough like consistency. Stick this into the fridge, it will make it more play-dough like and moldable. I had to repeat this process for my 2nd color cake.
So now you’ve got frosting dough chilling in the fridge. How do we turn this into eyeballs?
PART 2: DIPPING
For the eyeballs, you’ll need melted chocolate, a cookie sheet, popsicle or similar sticks, and a place for the chocolate to harden vertically.
Take the cooled dough out of the fridge and begin rolling the dough into balls about the size of, well an eyeball. If you’re not sure how big that is thing ping pong or golfball sized. If at any point the dough gets too sticky to work with, place it back in the fridge for a few minutes to cool down again. Eventually you’ll have rows and rows of multicolored balls.
While you’re freezing your balls (/snicker), you’ll get the chocolate going.
I prefer a double boiler because it helps me keep the chocolate at a low, even heat for an extended period of time. If chocolate gets too hot, or gets water in it, or the temp fluctuates too much, the chocolate seizes up, gets lumpy, and is no longer useable.
If you don’t own a double boiler, I actually recommend using a microwave. You can microwave your chocolate at 15-30 second intervals, stirring in between until smooth.
But this is master level stuff.
Double Boiler time.
Once my double boiler is simmering, the chocolate goes in and slowly melts down. My favorite technique for getting my balls coated in chocolate (TWSS!), is to take one of the now hard cold spheres, dip one side in the chocolate, spear it on the chocolate side with a stick, swirl it in the chocolate to cover the remainder, tap off excess, and set aside to dry/cool. They’ll harden faster than you think because the balls in the center are cold. Nifty, huh?
Once the chocolate has hardened, I twist the cake balls off the stick and reuse them for the next round. I usually stick the uncoated cake balls back in the freezer in between so that they stay good and firm.
When all the cake balls are coated and dry, its time to decorate.
PART 3: EYEBALL IT UP
This part is super fun. You get to paint eyeballs. Creepy eyeballs. Lots of them.
For the decorating, I like liquid food coloring better than gel. Its easier to paint on and dries pretty quickly.
I started with three small portion bowls. In one went blue food coloring, red in the next, and in the final I mixed blue, yellow, and green to get an odd, zombie-like brown/black.
Use a Qtip for each bowl. No color mixing! What is this, 2nd grade art class?
Dot in the center for a pupil. Smear a circle of blue around it for an iris. And then I got to have fun, cuz I’d put a little drop of red in a few places, and then smear it around with a toothpick for that “freshly-plucked-out-of-Mat-Cauthon‘s-skull” look. Set each one to dry!
Eventually you will have rows of little bloody eyeballs to give out to the little children. Or devour. Or just look at you, watching…always watching. (President Hoodie is upset with me because mine are staring at him from the counter right now. :3)