Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Halloween Approacheth!

Day One

Oh, yes, YES! It IS almost time! The weather is cooler, the leaves are turning, it's getting dark earlier... there's rain and wind and menacing clouds*... my Halloween Tree is up, the skull collection is dusted and nicely arrayed, and the cat is quaking under the bed for fear of being dyed black. I'm in the process of untangling the purple mini-lights and illuminated eyeball strands, and maybe this year, just maybe, I'll find the perfect Deathly Door Decoration.

Sweet Zombie Jeebus, I am SUCH a Halloween Junkie!

All I need is a party invitation.

C'mon guys; now is the time to be planning some Spooky Festivities and by including me you will automatically gain access to my vast collection of trashy horror movie.s my Halloweenesque mix CDs, my delightfully morbid/cynical sense of humor, plus, assuming you'll allow me to use your kitchen (mine is something of a disaster area), I'll even make a special dessert!

*crickets chirping*

No takers, huh? Well, let me give you the dessert recipe anyway because, well, because it's too good not to share:

Penn & Teller's Bleeding Heart Gelatin Dessert
(from Penn & Teller's How To Play With Your Food)

The title says it all. It's the perfect coup de grace for your intimate dinner at home. As your guests sip their coffee, you unveil a glistening pink gelatin heart on a pedestal cake stand. Then you whip out a carving knife and stab it. Dark, gooey blood issues majestically from the wound. You cut dainty slices off the lobes of the heart and flip them onto dessert plates. You hold each portion under the oozing gash until it is nicely sauced with gore, add a dollop of whipped cream, and serve.

4 cups of water
4 3-oz. boxes or two 6-oz boxes of peach (pink; think of lung tissue) or strawberry (redder; think of livers and hearts) gelatin dessert mix.
4 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 12-ounce can unsweetened evaporated milk

1/2 cup grenadine syrup
1 cup light corn syrup
1 small bottle (0.3 fl. oz.) red food coloring
3 drops blue food coloring
1 1-gallon food-storage bag (the plain kind without the zip closure)
6 1/2 cup heart-shaped gelatin mold or cake pan

Boil the water. Put the packaged gelatin dessert and unflavored gelatin in a bowl and pour the boiling water over it, stirring constantly. Cool to room temperature (very important or the next step may present problems). Stir in the condensed milk. Note how it already is acquiring the color of freshly skinned flesh.

Pour the mixture into the gelatin mold. Cover the bottom of the mold (this will be the top when you serve it) with a layer about half an inch think. Refrigerate until it gels firmly.

Meanwhile, prepare a nice bladder of blood. Stir together the corn syrup, grenadine, and food colorings (we do it right in the measuring cup to save dish washing--every erg saved in preparation is an erg one can use to enjoy the Payoff). For the bladder (the bag that keeps the blood together inside the mass of gelatin) take the gallon-size food-storage bag and turn it inside out. Pour the blood mixture into one corner of the bag and twist it closed so that no air bubble is caught between the sauce and the twist. Tie a knot in the twisted plastic. Adjust the position of the knot so that when the bag lies on the counter, it's about 1 1/2 to 2 inches high, and tighten the knot. With a pair of scissors, snip off the frilly extra plastic outside the knot.

When the gelatin on the bottom of the mold is stiff and firm, position the bladder of blood in the mold, with the point of the bag just inside the point of the heart. Make sure there is at least 3/4" of space between all sides of the bag and the walls of the mold (this will ensure that your guests don't see clues ahead of time). Pour in the remaining gelatin until the mold is as full as you can handle. Don't worry if you see a little of the blood-bladder grazing the surface of the gelatin, as longs as it doesn't project too much; the side you are looking at now will be the bottom when you serve it.

Refrigerate until gelled firmly to the texture of fine, lean organ meat. It takes about 4 hours.

To unmold, put about 2 1/2 inches of hot, but not boiling water in your sink. Set your mold in the water so that the water comes just below the edge of the mold for 15 to 20 seconds; the time depends on the thickness of the mold pan. Remove the mold from the water, and run the blade of a knife around the edge of the gelatin. Invert your serving platter, ideally a white pedestal cake plate, on top and hold it firmly in place. Then use both hands to turn over the mold and the plate. Remove the mold; you may need to tap or shake the mold slightly to free the gelatin.

The blood looks prettiest when it flows over white plates, doilies, and table linen, which it may stain permanently--but what the hell, it's the effect that matters. To serve, use a nice, big Psycho-style chef's knife and stab the side of the gelatin about one third of the way up from the pointed end of the heart. Twist the knife slightly, and blood will start to ooze out. Bare your teeth like a Marine jabbing with bayonet, and widen the wound. When the blood is coming at a good slip, grab a dessert plate, and cut a slice from one of the lobes of the heart. Flip it onto the plate, and drizzle it with blood by holding it under the edge of the pedestal. Add whipped cream and serve.

This dish delights all five senses:
1. Sight: red, glossy, and elegantly surreal when the blood starts to flow.
2. Taste: sweeeet.
3. Smell: classic artificial-fruity
4. Touch: cold and wiggly.
5. Hearing: the screaming of guests.

I don't particularly like the Valentine's Day mold, myself, but fortunately there are... other... options at The Anatomical Chart Company, The Anatomy Warehouse, and all over the Web.

On the other hand, since zombies are all the rage these days this particular recipe might be even cooler with... BRAAAAAAAAAAINS!

Brain Jello Mold From The PrankPlace
Quiggle Adult Size "Brain" Gelatin Mold (warning: annoying music)
Archie McPhee's Zombie Brain Gelatin Mold
The Brain Gelatin Mold at Steve Spangler Science
Brain Gelatin Mold from Anatomical Chart Co. (via Amazon)
Or simply search the Intarweb--there seem to be dozens of varieties.

Mischief managed.**

*Which also means it's time for the State Fair because tradition demands a drizzly opening.

**Geezie-peezie, did I just make a Harry Potter reference? Someone really needs to assault me with a +5 Gauntlet of Bitchslapping.***

***Damnation, now it's Dungeon & Dragons references. What is wrong with me tonight?

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