About 15 years ago, I got serious about making sweets to give at Christmas. In October I would determine the treats and the packaging. Over the next weeks I would collect everything so that I would be ready to make and mail during the 2nd week of December. I’ve done everything from Chocolate Raspberry Loaves to Burnt Sugar Pecans but, one item remains consistent…Meringue Mushrooms. They actually came by accident. Coworkers would order Yule Logs from me during the holidays. I went all out…chocolate cake soaked with Grand Marnier, white chocolate mousse filling, rich dark chocolate ganache, and meringue mushrooms. The mushrooms were such a hit, people began ordering them year round. Since they were so popular, I began adding them to my holiday gift packages.
While easy, meringue mushrooms take a lot of oven time. They’re baked on very low heat to basically dry out the meringue. One batch, takes about 2 1/2 hours (more on a humid day). I usually, start them early in the morning, so that my oven will be free for me to use later in the day.
I also made caramels sprinkled with Himalayan Pink Salt Crystals*…I got the idea from one of my favorite blogs, Sinful Sundays. These are the best caramels I’ve ever had! They’re rich, buttery, and the added salt brings about a whole new level of flavor. I just wanted to show the photo…the recipe and instructions will follow in the next post.
I’ll be posting more gifts from my kitchen this week. The meringue mushroom recipe and instructions continue on the next page.
Adapted from CHOCOLAT, Alice Medrich
makes about 60
4 egg whites at room temperature, use extra large or jumbo eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
5 ounces dark sweet chocolate, melted
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside until ready to use.
In a large mixing bowl combine egg whites, vanilla and cream of tartar. Beat on medium speed, until soft peaks form.
|Egg whites, cream of tarter & vanilla…beaten to soft peak stage|
Next, increase mixer speed and beat in sugar, one tablespoon at a time. Continue beating on high speed until volume as increased and mixture is stiff and dull in color.
|Mixture is stiff and ready to pipe…|
Using a pastry bag or large ziploc bag with end snipped off, pipe “stems” on to parchment lined pan. Do this first, while meringue is very stiff. After piping about 60 stems, pipe the “caps”. Pipe various sizes, between 1/2 inch to 1 1/2 inch in diameter.
|stems & caps|
Once all piping is done, use a fine strainer(I used a tea strainer) to sprinkle stems and caps with cocoa. Using a heavy piece of card stock, fan over the stems and caps to blur cocoa. This step makes all the difference…you won’t believe how many people will ask how you got them to look like mushrooms!
|sprinkle with cocoa|
Bake for 2 1/2 hours. Check by lightly touching a cap. If there is any “give”, leave in oven for another 20-30 minutes. When done, remove from oven and allow to cool in baking pan. Once completely cooled, assemble as follows:
Place one large sheet of parchment paper on a counter top or large baking sheet. Assemble the mushrooms, one at a time, to prevent chocolate hardening before applying stems. Using your index finger, lightly scrape a small indentation into the bottom center of each cap. Use a spatula or small knife, to spread a small amount of chocolate over the bottom of the cap. Insert the pointed end of the stem into the center indentation. Although the chocolate acts as glue, the indentation also reinforces the hold. Allow chocolate to harden before packaging or serving. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.
|cap & stem ready to be assembled|
|Spread chocolate over bottom of cap…see the crumbs from making the indentation?|
|How cute is that?|