Ghoulish edible eyeballs made from Red Velvet cake, creamcheese frosting and white chocolate for a gross Halloween treat. *insert evil laugh*
So why is candy handed out by the bagful on Halloween? It sounded like a pretty sweet tradition to a little Cake Mistress who sulked when she wasn’t allowed to go trick-or-treating. Boo.
The origins are quite fascinating, albeit slightly morbid. Back in medieval times, there was a Christian English tradition called “Souling“. On November 1 and 2, in line with All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, singers would go door-to-door and beg for cakes in rememberance of the departed. For every cake eaten, a soul was released from purgatory. If that’s the case, I’ve freed a heck of a lot of souls in my time. On the night before All Hallows’ Day, known as Allhallows e’en in ye’ olde English, the children would have an evening of fun and mischief.
Similarly, the Celts had a harvest festival called Samhain on November 1. It marked the end of a summer and the optimal time for the land of the dead to reach out to the land of the living. Awesome. Costumes and masks were worn by humans to disguise themselves from the evil spirits. Turnips were hollowed out, carved with faces and turned into lanterns to also ward of the evil ones. See, I always knew turnips were an evil vegetable.
It appears that Evil Spirits have an aversion to The Count from Sesame Street. Image from Marioanima. Used under Creative Commons
By the 19th century, children went around ‘guising’ door-to-door, dressed in costumes and carrying their spooky turnip lanterns in exchange for food or cash. With time and good old American enthusiasm, Halloween turned into the holiday we know today. In a nutshell.
I spotted these carnivorous eyeballs on Forkable Blog. They used Rice Krispies and peanut butter to construct the balls, but with my aversion to Rice Bubbles I wanted something different. I also wanted a smoother rounder ball, with disgusting gooey pink insides. Remembering Bakerella’s Red Velvet Cake Balls, which called for packet mix cake and canned frosting, I instead used my all-time favourite Red Velvet Cake and Cream Cheese Frosting recipe to bake it from scratch.
Here’s how I constructed my Halloween Eyeballs made from cake balls. Apologies if you encounter a lot of unintended double entrendres. I talk about balls a lot in the method and there’s only so many ways you can phrase things, tee hee.
Makes around 36 cake eyeballs.
Halloween Eyeballs: Red Velvet Cake Balls with Creamcheese Frosting and White Chocolate
1. Bake the Red Velvet Cake
60 g Unsalted Butter, room temperature
150 g Caster Sugar
1 large Egg, lightly beaten
10 g Cocoa Powder
20 ml Red or Rose Pink Food colouring, either in gel or paste form
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
120 ml Buttermilk
150 g Plain flour
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Bicarb Soda
1 1/2 teaspoon White wine Vinegar
Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease a medium loaf tin or 23cm cake tin with non-stick spray.
Place butter and sugar in a medium bowl and beat using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment until light and fluffy. Slowly add the egg and beat until everything is well mixed.
In a small bowl mix the food colouring, sifted cocoa powder and vanilla extract until it makes a thick paste. Add the paste to the butter mixture and beat thoroughly until the colour is mixed evenly through the batter. Be sure to scrape down any stray batter from the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. The mix should be a deep rose pink/red.
On slow speed, slowly add half the buttermilk until well mixed then add half the flour, beating until combined. Repeat for the remaining milk and flour, beating until the mixture is smooth.
Add the salt, bicarb and vinegar, turn up the speed and beat for a couple more minutes.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the top of the cake bounces back when lightly touched and the sides of the cake come away from the tin. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Invert the cake onto a wire rack to cool completely.
2. Make Cream Cheese Frosting
300 g Icing sugar, sifted
50 g Unsalted butter, room temperature
125 g Cream Cheese, slightly softened
In a food processor or electric mixer, beat the icing sugar and butter until incorporated. The mixture is dry and almost like breadcrumbs at this stage. Dice the cream cheese into smaller cubes then add to the mix, beating until completely combined. On medium-high speed, continue beating the frosting until it becomes light and fluffy, around 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl so the ingredients are fully combined.
3. Shape the Cake Balls
When the cake is cool, crumble it into a bowl. Pour the cream cheese frosting on top and beat until evenly mixed throughout. The cake ball dough will be thick and sticky. Lightly roll heaped teaspoons of dough in your hand to form a ball and place onto a baking tray lined with non-stick paper. Do not worry if they are not perfectly round at this stage. Place the tray in the fridge and allow to cool for at least 60 minutes. Once the balls have firmed up, quickly roll them again in your palms to make smoother, rounder balls.
4. Decorate the Eyeballs
Bag of M&Ms
Red gel food colouring
360g White Chocolate, coarsely chopped
Hairdryer or heatgun
Method 1: Use tempered chocolate. If you know how to temper white chocolate, go ahead and do this to coat the eyeballs. The advantage of tempering the chocolate first is that it will dry much quicker and you’ll avoid pools of chocolate forming feet at the base of your balls. If you don’t know how it’s not a drama, as you can just carve the excess away like I did in the main picture.
Method 2: Use melted chocolate. Melt 100-180g white chocolate at a time in a small deep bowl. Heat for 30 seconds at a time in the microwave to avoid burning the chocolate, stirring well each time. Melt the last few chunks with a hairdryer or heatgun. Quickly drop one ball at a time into the bowl and roll it around the chocolate to achieve an even coating. Return the ball to the non-stick paper. Try to be quick and efficient, otherwise the combo of the sticky chocolate and pointy fork starts to tear cake away from the ball. If the chocolate starts to harden from the cold balls, give it a blast with a hairdryer to melt it back to a good consistency. While the coating is still wet, press an M&M into the top to form the eyeball. Allow the chocolate to fully set. The chocolate might puddle at the bottom of the eyeball, but don’t worry. Once the chocolate is harder, use a soft butter knife to gently carve the excess chocolate away.
Mix a touch of water with the red gel to make it slightly easier to spread. When the coating is completely set, dip a toothpick into the colouring and paint bloodshot veins onto the eyeballs.