Those Meringue Mushrooms are Cookies?
Yes, these crispy, sweet Meringue Mushrooms are indeed cookies. A bit of a trompe l’oeil, which means “deceive the eye” in French. I get such a kick every time I make these and present them to unsuspecting folks – they think they are real mushrooms every single time!
Home Baked Treats Everywhere
As a baker, I have to admit that my kids grew up with a rarefied experience. They had baked-from-scratch croissants and brioche as a matter of course and fresh bread every day during my bakery owner days – Robin and I owned a bakery together years ago, but that’s a story for another time!
Elaborate cakes and sweets would make regular appearances. Early on I started making a Bûche de Noël (a cake that looks like a Yule log) and these Meringue Mushrooms every year for Christmas. It is now one of our food traditions.
The bûche would have a different flavor every year. The mushrooms were ALWAYS included.
What Speaks to You?
I have three children. My daughter Ravenna is an amazing self-taught baker – you can see her handiwork in our Decorated Sugar Cookie recipe and Hanukkah Sugar Cookies recipe. Then I have twin boys, Freeman and Forrester. Freeman went to the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) and is the one “cook” in the family who is professionally trained.
His brother Forrester is in the medical field. It is Forrester who asks me every year if I am going to make the mushrooms. One of the joys of creating family food traditions is to see how they bring joy to family members.
You never know what little action is going to touch someone and speak to them.
Simple Ingredients – Stunning Results
Meringue, at its most basic, is simply a combination of egg whites and sugar. Sometimes if is soft, as in a Lemon Meringue Pie topping, or as part of Italian Meringue Buttercream.
Here it is baked until crisp. The caps and stems are piped out separately with a decorating piping bag and tip. The “dirt” is cocoa. The components are “glued” together with melted chocolate.
These Meringue Mushrooms do take some attention to detail, but the results are well worth it. The caps are seen here below piped out on the pan.
And here below are the stems, on a separate pan.
Dutch Cocoa vs. Natural
In some recipes where cocoa is blended into a batter, like in our Red Velvet Cake, it is important to pay attention to what kind of cocoa is called for as Dutch-processed (which is treated with an alkali to be less acidic) and natural cocoa will act differently.
Here they are simply sprinkled over the mushroom caps to look like “dirt”; Dutch processed is darker; natural is lighter and each can create its own effect. You could even use both, layered one on top of the other!
Read our article All About Cocoa.
The French Touch
On a historic note, the classic French Christmas dessert is buche de Noel, and pastry chefs often make meringue mushrooms to go along with the woodland theme. You can see them adorning our Chocolate Chestnut Buche de Noel and also alongside our Souche de Noel, which is a decorative and very tasty STUMP!
Sweet, light and sure to fool the eye! These meringue mushrooms are the perfect decoration for your holiday cakes and Buche De Noel.
Low FODMAP Serving Size Info: Makes about 36 assorted sized “mushrooms”; serving size 2 mushrooms
Preheat oven to 225°F/110°C. Line two half-sheet baking pans with parchment paper.
Place egg whites in a clean, grease free bowl of stand mixer and whip with balloon whip attachment on high speed until foamy. (You can also use a large bowl, an electric mixer and beaters, but beating times will be longer). Add cream of tartar and whip until soft peaks form. Add sugar gradually and whip until stiff, but not dry, peaks form. Beat in vanilla extract. Scrape mixture into pastry bag fitted with ½ inch (12 mm) round tip.
On one sheet pan pipe about 36 rounds that vary in size from about 1 inch to 2 inches (2.5 cm to 5 cm) in diameter (like the white mushrooms from the supermarket) placing the cookies 1-inch (2.5 cm) apart. The cookies will have peaked tops, like chocolate kisses; that’s OK. Dip your index finger in water, shake excess water off, then gently press down on the peak to make a rounded, mushroom-like top. Place cocoa in a fine-meshed strainer and sift lightly over rounds. It should look like the mushroom tops are dusted with “dirt”.
On the other sheet pan, pipe out the stems as follows: hold the tip directly over the pan, hovering about ½ inch (12 mm) above the pan, with the tip’s opening facing straight down. Begin applying pressure; the meringue stem will touch the pan and you should immediately lift the pastry bag straight up to guide the stem straight up. When the stem is about 1 inch high, gradually lessen your pressure and pull up. You should have an upright stem with a peaked top (see image). Just like with the caps, you want 36 stems and they should vary in height and thickness a little bit to match up with the varying sizes of caps.
Bake both pans for about 1 ½ hours or until meringue is completely dry and crispy to the touch. Slide parchment onto racks to cool cookies completely. Take a very small sharp paring knife and cut off the peaked tops of the stems to create a flat surface; this is the surface that will attach to the cap. The meringue is so dry that you can almost scrape it flat with the knife after cutting off the peak to create a nice, smooth surface.
Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in the microwave and stir until smooth; cool until just warm.
Take a small offset spatula and spread a little bit of chocolate on the bottom of a cap, very neatly, going all the way to the edges but not onto the sides of the cap. Take a stem that visually matches in size (you just pick and choose caps and stems that seem to go together. Remember, there is a lot of variation in real mushrooms). Affix the cut side of the stem in the center of the wet chocolate and press to adhere. Place upright (stem side down, cap side up) on a cookie sheet, or on its side if the stem is already connected pretty firmly.
Repeat with all mushrooms and place on pan to allow chocolate to harden completely (you may place the pan in the refrigerator briefly if the chocolate is not firming up). Cookies may be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
- This is one of those recipes that does take attention to detail, but I have taught many people how to make these over decades of classes and I promise that if you follow the directions, you will be rewarded with gorgeous "mushrooms". Take it slowly and methodically!
All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more. For a more detailed explanation, please read our article Understanding The Nutrition Panel Within Our Recipes.
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