Ewwww! Look at those smashed toad brains with curdled blood, spotted with gray matter. A bit slime as well? And some guts? Just kidding 🙂 Read below the secrets of making this scary looking but yummy Halloween spread. By the looks of it, you couldn’t ever guess how delicious it tastes, especially with my sour cream and chive crackers!
Tips for making the Halloween spread
This is once again a simple thing to make. Just whisk the ingredients of the “blood” together and set aside. Then mix the ingredients of the “toad brains” together and refrigerate. When ready to serve, pour the soy sauce mixture in the cream cheese mixture and stir well but gently so that there are nice swirls of “blood”. The soy sauce is very salty, so it’s good to mix it well enough into the cream cheese mixture.
You can adjust the color of blood to your liking by adding more beet juice if needed. Be careful though, and add the juice drop by drop. You need only very little to get the right tone.
In case you prefer thinner blood, add just 1 pinch (1 ml) xanthan. 2 pinches (2 ml) makes quite thick, curdled-looking blood. It might be a good idea to use 1 pinch (1 ml) of xanthan first, wait for some minutes and add more if you prefer thicker consistency. It takes some minutes before the xanthan takes full effect.
Pour the xanthan little by little and whisk all the time when you pour it to prevent lumps forming.
My experiments with the Halloween spread
In the beginning I wasn’t thinking of anything scary looking. It was rather something velvety with whipped butter and pumpkin. Maybe some maple flavor and bacon as well. However, my experiments didn’t bring any satisfactory results, so I started thinking of other approaches.
I was doing mouth-watering pumpkin and apple muffins experiments too, but maybe I publish them next week. On the other hand, I had developed a ridiculously easy and tasty stracciatella yogurt recipe. Oh yes, and a few days ago I made DIY 3-ingredient Dr Pepper, which was also ridiculously easy, simple and just like the real stuff! (I had one can to compare.) Not to mention healthy as well. Well, maybe next week. Or after that. You’ll get those, I promise 🙂 Anyway, since I had promised you a Halloween spread recipe this week, I’m going to keep my promise.
I found myself taking a peek of one of my favorite German cooking sites http://www.chefkoch.de. They had some Halloween-related stuff there, totally dreadful photos and clever ideas for food and decoration! I also saw a recipe for artificial blood: 1 liter (33.81 fl. oz) beet juice, 1/8 liter (125 ml = 4.23 fl. oz) orange juice, spoonful (teaspoon or tablespoon, didn’t mention) cocoa powder and 3 tablespoons starch. Those should be cooked until you get the consistency you want to.
Well, based on that I started experimenting. I bought a bottle of Biotta beet juice, which I luckily found from the grocery store nearby (it’s a huge store). A tablespoon or two juice, then some cocoa powder. It didn’t mix that well, but it was okay. I didn’t have any OJ at hand because it’s not very low-carb, so I decided to skip that. Anyway the color and texture looked pretty okay, just a bit gritty because of the cocoa powder.
Yes, then how to get the whole thing thicker. Now it was fluid. Too fluid, like water. It was simply lacking credibility. Since starch doesn’t belong to my pantry (well, I do have some organic potato starch for treating diaper rash, but for consuming… nope). Here the good old xanthan came in. It worked absolutely wonderfully! Just a pinch of xanthan and ta-da, the texture looked like curdled blood. Ew! I scared myself.
I just wasn’t happy with the cocoa powder. Neither was it good for savory spread, nor for the color or texture. I started thinking of other options. It should be something brown anyway. Eureka! Balsamic vinegar! That was the answer. For the first experiment 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons beet juice and 2 pinches (2 ml) xanthan. Result: too much beet juice color, too thick after an hour. But quite close, I have to admit.
More balsamic vinegar, less beet juice and xanthan. The next experiment was successful, and the color was just like blood. Ew ew! I scared myself again.
The next step was to think of the base, toad brains. I thought that the flavors of beet juice and balsamic vinegar might go well with cream cheese and blue cheese. They did, but the flavor of the balsamic vinegar was quite overpowering.
I started thinking again a suitable brown-colored food stuff for the blood part. Coffee, tea, peanut butter, whiskey, brown butter, soy beans, frozen basil leaves, kalamata olives, … Gluten-free soy sauce! Yes, that brought great results with beet juice, just like blood. Ew, ew, ew!
I also tried 100% cranberry juice for the blood, but it didn’t work that well. Beet juice was definitely the best and gave the most authentic color.
For the base I changed the blue cheese to garlic bread seasoning, because the spread would have been too salty otherwise. And the taste of garlic simply goes extremely well with the soy sauce and cream cheese. Yum!
|Nutrition information||Protein||Fat||Net carbs||kcal|
|In total:||29.3 g||105.8 g||20.6 g||1154 kcal|
|Per tablespoon (1/2 oz = 15 g):||0.9 g||3.1 g||0.6 g||34 kcal|
Ideas for serving and variation
If you would like to have dip instead of spread, beat the cream cheese with the garlic bread seasoning with an electric mixer until fluffy. Beating the cream cheese makes it runnier, so it works perfectly as dip. For dip, I recommend not to make that thick blood, otherwise it simply sinks to the bottom or the serving bowl and you cannot see any blood. 1 pinch (1 ml) or slightly more xanthan should be enough for the blood.
You can serve the spread or dip as individual servings in schnapps glasses.
Instead of garlic bread seasoning you can use crushed garlic or finely chopped dry or fresh herbs. Feel free to use your favorite seasonings.
If you totally avoid soy, you can make the “blood” with balsamic vinegar. Just remember that it has a very strong flavor, so little goes a long way. Below the soy-free alternative for the blood.