It’s been a little while, but I am delighted to share a new post today that I think you are going to love. Plus, it’s the first of October, and what better way to kick off spooky season than with some horror and tasty treats?
Thank you so much to Tiffany for sending this my way!
Tiffany Michelle Brown is a California-based writer who once had a conversation with a ghost over a pumpkin beer. Her fiction has been featured by Sliced Up Press, Fright Girl Summer, Cemetery Gates Media, Ghost Orchid Press, D&T Publishing, Frost Zone Press, and the NoSleep Podcast. She is the author of Easy as Pie, a Southern Gothic short story about love, death, and the consequences of holding on too tightly to memories (available in ebook format via Amazon). She lives in San Diego with her husband, Bryan, and their pups, Biscuit and Zen, and is working on her first short story collection.
Tell us what horror book you chose to highlight and why it’s a favorite of yours:
I chose Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke by Eric LaRocca, a novella I greedily consumed in a single sitting on my birthday earlier this year. It was a wild, nostalgic, gross ride, and it’s one of those books that stays with you, in part because it evokes such potent and terrifying imagery.
I’m also a sucker for a story that begins with something innocuous – like a vintage apple peeler – and transforms it into something you’ll never look at the same way again in real life. I recently spotted a vintage apple peeler on a TV show and did a double take. It was this cute scene where a couple was making an apple pie, and I basically started screaming at the screen, telling them they needed to get that devil contraption out of their home as soon as possible.
What did you decide to make to pair with the book, and what from the book inspired your delicious treat?
There are three things that immediately come to mind when I think about this book: eyeballs, apples, and tapeworms. So, my dark little heart decided it wanted to make caramel-apple butter “eyeball” truffles and crispy, crunchy “tapeworm” baklava. Yummy!
Can you share the recipe or a link to the recipe?
A little foreword before we get into all the baking shenanigans! There are two main components involved in this bake – the truffles and the baklava. One is pretty dang hard and the other is fairly easy.
The eyeball truffles were my first attempt at any kind of chocolate work, and let me tell you, it was difficult! I have a newfound respect for folks who specialize in chocolate. Like, whoa.
If you enjoy a challenge, you’re cool with things not always turning out just right, and/or you’re a baking masochist (this is very on brand for Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke), make those truffles! If you’re not into complicated bakes, buy some white chocolate truffles, decorate them to look like eyeballs, and voila, you’re halfway done!
On the other side of the spectrum, I found the baklava very accessible and delicious, so let’s dive into that recipe first.
Crispy, Crunchy “Tapeworm” Baklava
This was my first time making baklava, so my goal with this portion of the bake was to find the simplest, most accessible recipe possible. Y’all, I did, and it’s a great one!
Here’s the text-based recipe: https://www.dimitrasdishes.com/baklava-spirals/
And there’s a video, too: Baklava Spirals: Dainty & Delicious!
I found the video extremely helpful. It’s short, direct, and gave me the confidence I needed to work with store-bought phyllo dough.
Pro tip, if you buy frozen phyllo dough, you’ll need to defrost it in the refrigerator first and then allow it to come up to room temperature before you work with it. Both of these steps take hours, so plan your baking accordingly!
Another tip: This recipe doesn’t call for any salt, so I added some to the nut mixture to give the filling a little more depth and to take the edge off the inherent sweetness.
I wound up with an excess of the nut mixture, but if this happens to you, fear not. It is delicious sprinkled over the top of the final baklava. In the future, I’d make extra just to have this to top the pastries. It’s a nice textural component and adds flavor, too!
Lastly, this recipe makes a lot of baklava – about 24 pieces! If you don’t plan on sharing with friends, family, or neighbors, you could half the recipe and have plenty of treats for a couple or small household.
Caramel-Apple Butter “Eyeball” Truffles
First, I made the filling. I melted ¼ cup caramel, added in equal parts warmed apple butter, mixed vigorously to combine, and let the mixture cool completely in the fridge.
If you want to make your own apple butter, here’s a great Instant Pot recipe: https://easyweeknightrecipes.com/instant-pot-apple-butter/. If you don’t have an Instant Pot, you can absolutely make apple butter on your stovetop. You’re essentially cooking down apples with warm, wonderful spices and then whizzing the mixture up until it’s smooth. (And any leftover apple butter you have can be used on PB&J sandwiches, pancakes, ice cream, etc.)
For truffle assembly, I used these instructions: https://fatdaddios.com/inspiration/how-make-chocolate-truffles
Can we take a moment to read that warning at the top of this webpage? “If you have never worked with chocolate before I wouldn’t recommend starting with molded truffles. It would be like tackling a wedding cake for your first cake decorating experience.” Um, oops. Haha! I’m in this picture, and I don’t like it. But also, challenge accepted!
I used silicone molds that I bought on Amazon, and I love them. Easy to use, easy to clean, cheap. Highly recommend.
I used Ghirardelli white chocolate chips to create the chocolate shells for these truffles, and I found the tempering method outlined on the Fat Daddio’s website above really helpful. For my first batch, I melted ¾ cup of chocolate in the microwave (in 20 second increments and stirring in between) and then added another ¼ cup of chocolate and stirred, stirred, stirred for about seven minutes to get the chocolate to the right temperature and consistency (see the details on the Fat Daddio’s webpage). If you’re going to pipe the melted chocolate into your silicone molds, work fast! Halfway through, my chocolate started hardening, and it was no longer pipeable. But it was still soft enough to work with, so I started pressing the chocolate into the molds with a spoon, and that worked out just fine! If, like me, these are your first truffles, don’t be afraid to create thicker chocolate shells. They’ll be easier to work with, and you can always finesse your chocolate work and get fancy down the line.
After I added the chocolate into my molds, the freezer became my best friend! The cold set the chocolate beautifully, and it made it really easy to remove the shells from the silicone molds.
After the chocolate hardened, I added cold caramel-apple butter filling to the chocolate molds with a small spoon, and then popped them right back into the freezer. When everything was nice and frozen, I donned some nitrile gloves (to reduce the amount of body heat I transferred to the chocolate while handling it), popped the chocolate out of the molds, and poured some hot water into a mug. Then, I pressed a truffle half to the cup for a few seconds to melt the edge of the chocolate and joined two truffle halves together to create a sphere. Be careful not to over-melt the chocolate on your mug. You really only need a couple seconds of heat and a soft press to join the truffle halves. When all the halves are joined, pop the spheres back in the freezer to set.
When the truffles were set, I got gloved up again and used food-safe, edible-ink markers (also purchased on Amazon) to decorate them with pupils and irises. The markers work best on dry surfaces, so you may need to pat your chocolates dry before you draw. Only decorate the truffles you plan to serve immediately as any kind of moisture will likely result in the ink running (though maybe runny eyeballs would add an extra level of terror!).
The apple butter-caramel mixture has a good amount of liquid in it, so I’d recommend storing these truffles in your fridge or freezer. Of course, you can fill these bad boys with whatever filling you’d like – jam, chocolate ganache, buttercream, etc., so have fun!
Thank you so much again to Tiffany! This was such a delightful walkthrough to read of how she made this terrifying and tasty treat. If you want to submit your own Delicious Horror post, read how to do that right here!