Intro: Thoughtful Panna Cotta
This aint your Grandma's jello mold...
Yes it was fun in the 50's, but now a days the jello mold has about gone the way of the Raphus cucullatus! Not too many years ago though, someone got cute and made one of the brain...LOVED IT. I've used this recipe for Halloween parties, Halloween work pot-lucks and for Hannibal Lecter movie marathons. It tastes wonderful and can even be made more kid friendly (minus the whiskey). Whiskey is optional, but there's not much of it so I wouldn't suggest leaving it out-- it tastes wonderful in this. But if you really want to make this Halloween party food kid-friendly, it's also good whiskey-free.
Here's what you'll need:
6-cup capacity gelatin brain mold.
A fine mesh strainer (I had to borrow that from Grandma).
A few hand-towels to steady the mold in the fridge
3 (12 oz.) cans evaporated milk, divided
4 (1/4 oz.) pkgs. unflavored powdered gelatin
1 1/2 C. whipping cream
1 C. sugar
2 tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
2 oz. whiskey
red and blue food coloring (I used 7 drops of each)
For Cranberry "Meningeal' Glaze:
8 oz. cranberry juice
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1. In a medium heat-safe mixing bowl, stir together 4 envelopes of gelatin and one can of evaporated milk. (This mixture needs to sit at least five minutes.) The small mixing bowl of most mixers will BARELY hold this by the way.
2. Pour remaining evaporated milk and whipping cream into a heavy sauce pan. Slowly bring to a boil.Take your time and care not to scald the mixture.
3. Add sugar, salt, and whiskey to boiling milk mixture. Stir til dissolved.
4. Remove from heat and CAREFULLY pour boiling milk mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into the gelatin-evaporated milk mixture. I learned the hard way that it is indeed hot.
5. Stir in vanilla extract. Add the food coloring for a realistic "grey matter" color. The muted yellow with the purple food color mixture works great!
6. Following the manufacturer's directions for your gelatin brain mold, pour mixture into your brain mold and refrigerate overnight.
I sprayed my mold with Pam and poured it in...
7. Top with cranberry "Meningeal" glaze just before serving.
Instructions for Cranberry Glaze:
1. In a small, heavy saucepan, combine cranberry juice and cornstarch.
2. Bring gently to a boil. Boil, stirring, until thickened.
3. Remove from heat and allow to come to room temperature. Stir with a wire wisk.
4. Spoon over set, unmolded brain.
5. Mixture will get slightly lumpy and strange-looking upon cooling-- this is just what you want and makes the final product look that much more gory.
I used a silver toned tray, but last year I used a clear plastic (Halloween themed) party tray. I had the brain resting on whole purple cabbage leaves. Heh heh...