The Art of Darkness

Shrunken Head Cider

October 18th, 2012 by Cobwebs

Shrunken Heads

My pal Kitten Herder turned me on to this splendid party idea: A cider-based punch full of apple “shrunken heads.” How awesome would a cauldron-esque punchbowl look with these bobbing around?

The recipe was presented without attribution on Facebook, but fortunately a bit of googling turned up the original source on an old episode of the Martha Stewart Show.

I’m a bit leery of the amount of salt in this version of the drying solution, since adding a lot of heads to the punch might make it noticeably salty. All of the instructions for shrunken-apple heads seem to require at least a little salt, but since these apples aren’t thoroughly dried out you could probably get away with less salt and a slightly longer drying time.

I’m also not really on board with this recipe’s implication that the punch should be at room temperature; it should probably either be served heated or ice-cold. If you don’t want ice cubes or an ice ring to detract from the floating heads, thoroughly chill the ingredients before combining and then sit the punchbowl inside a plastic novelty cauldron with ice in the bottom. (For extra spookiness add a little dry ice to the outer cauldron–NOT directly to the punch–so the cauldron will “smoke.”)

Obviously, you can use any punch recipe you like, although something with a citrus component (like the lemonade in this recipe) will help keep the apples from browning.

Ingredients
2 C lemon juice
2 T coarse salt
8 large, firm cooking apples such as Granny Smith
32 whole cloves
2 gallons apple cider
2 (12-ounce) cans frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
2 C spiced rum or apple brandy (optional)

Instructions
Preheat oven to 250 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper Mix together lemon juice and salt in a bowl large enough to roll the apples around in.

Peel the apples and cut each in half through the stem; remove seeds and core. Using a sharp paring knife, carve a face on the rounded side of each apple half. Place apples in lemon mixture for one minute; transfer to paper towels to drain.

Place apple halves face-side-up on prepared baking sheet and transfer to oven. Let bake until apples are dry and begin to brown around the edges, about 90 minutes. Remove from oven and press cloves into the “eyesockets.”

Combine cider, lemonade, and alcohol (if using) in a large punchbowl; float shrunken heads on top.

(Thanks, Kitten Herder!)

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