Spooky treats for Halloween are here in full force, but usually I don't contribute much to this particular holiday. I'm always a little thrown off by ghoulish treats, although I admire the ingenuity that goes into creating meatloaf hands, marshmallow spiders, and chocolatey witches' hats.
But this year I had a new favorite recipe in mind — and I realized it would make the perfect Halloween gross-out dessert, one that looked goofy but actually tasted delicious. Meet chia pudding — your best friend when it comes to Halloween treats.
Chia seeds are perhaps best-known for their role in creating furry green "Chia pets" — those of you who grew up in the 80s remember these well. But in the last few years the chia grain has grown in popularity for its edible advantages. Chia seeds are deliciously rich in fiber, protein, healthy fatty acids and other good things. But perhaps best of all, they also have a magic trick to play in the kitchen: they gel liquid.
Stir chia seeds into any liquid, and within a few minutes they'll begin to thicken and gel. After a night in the fridge this "pudding" turns into something like thick and creamy tapioca pudding, with a little pop and crunch from the core of the seeds.
I first tried chia pudding at brunch with Aimee of Simple Bites. Aimee asked me why I hadn't put chia pudding in my book of no-bake desserts, and I confessed I hadn't really tried it — it sounded so unusual and frankly rather strange. She pulled a batch out of the fridge and I marveled at its creamy consistency and soft tapioca-esque pearls.
I quickly tried it myself at home, using chia seeds I found in the gluten-free section at my local grocery store (they had the Bob's Red Mill brand). I mixed it up as a little coconut milk and maple syrup for a gluten-free, dairy-free treat for a friend, and I fell in love with its simple, satisfying sweetness.
The things that make chia such a simple dessert also make it a great Halloween treat. Tiny seeds, a dash of green matcha tea powder, and you have a gooey pudding that deserves the label of "frog spawn." And yet, unlike many Halloween desserts, this one actually tastes good — and is good for you!
I topped off this thick green pudding, too, with eyeballs. These are the easiest thing to make — it takes no crafting expertise whatsoever. Just buy a can of pitted longan fruit (or lychees) from your local Asian grocery, and stuff them with blueberries or pimiento olives. Tada — Halloween is served!
Coconut Green Tea Chia Pudding with Longan Eyeballs
Serves 4 to 6
For the pudding:
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup warm water
Juice of one lime (about 2 tablespoons)
2 teaspoons matcha powder
1 15-ounce can coconut milk
6 tablespoons to 1/2 cup chia seeds
For the eyeballs: 1 can pitted and peeled longan fruit in syrup (found in Asian markets)
Warm the sugar with the water over medium heat in a small saucepan, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat and whisk in the lime juice and salt.
Put the matcha powder in a separate large bowl and slowly whisk in the water and sugar syrup, until the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the coconut milk.
Add the chia seeds and whisk. (For a creamy pudding, use 6 tablespoons. For a very thick pudding you can create faces in, as seen here, use 1/2 cup chia seeds.) Let sit 5 minutes, then whisk again. Refrigerate overnight, or for at least 4 hours.
To make the eyeballs, drain the lychee fruits and stuff them with a blueberry or a whole pimiento-stuffed olive. Stuffed lychee fruit can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 2 days in a covered container.
To serve, spread the chia pudding in small bowls and top with lychee eyeballs.