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Meringue Mushrooms Tested Recipe

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What is amazing is how these Meringue Mushrooms actually look like real mushrooms. They start with just two ingredients, egg whites and sugar, that are beaten until stiff and glossy. The meringue is then placed in a pastry bag and piped into shapes that look like mushroom 'caps' and 'stems'. After baking in a slow oven the stems are attached to the caps in one of two ways; a little meringue is used as a 'glue' to attach the stems to the caps or you can use a little melted chocolate to 'glue' them together (used here). Either way is delicious. The finishing touch to make them look like real mushrooms, is to dust the tops of the meringue mushrooms with a light sprinkling of cocoa powder. The beauty of these meringue mushrooms is that they will keep, in dry humidity, several weeks. Serve the mushrooms standing upright on a platter or they also look wonderful placed in a basket. Meringue mushrooms are especially popular at Christmas time when they are used to garnish the Buche de Noel (Yule Log). .

While there is a recipe for Meringue Mushrooms in Fannie Farmer's Original 1896 Boston Cooking School Cookbook, I think Maida Heatter is responsible for their current popularity. She has a recipe for Meringue Mushrooms in her lovely 1978 book "Book of Great Chocolate Desserts" which is the same recipe she used to win first prize for originality at the International Cooking Olympics.

Now I know this seems like a very long and involved recipe but the meringue mushrooms are really not difficult to make. The instructions I have given are just in depth to ensure excellent results. There are a few things to keep in mind when making any meringue. First, make sure the egg whites are at room temperature and free of any specks of egg yolk. Superfine sugar (caster sugar) makes for a smoother meringue as it is easier for the sugar to dissolve. Make sure the bowl and beaters are clean and free of grease to obtain maximum volume. Adding the sugar gradually to the egg whites ensures that the sugar completely dissolves and does not produce a gritty meringue. Cream of tartar is used in the whipping of egg whites to stabilize them and allows them to reach maximum volume. Also, it is a good idea to use parchment paper or aluminum foil to line your baking sheets, not wax paper, as the meringue will sometimes stick to wax paper. Distribute the caps and stems evenly on the baking sheet to ensure even baking. You can put the 'caps' on one sheet and 'stems' on another, if desired. To prevent cracking of the meringues, do not open the oven door during the first half of the baking time.  Baking the meringues in a slow oven allows for gradual evaporation of the moisture from the meringues. While I have glued the caps and stems together with a little meringue, you can use melted chocolate.  Simply melt a little semi sweet chocolate and, with a small spatula or spoon, spread a thin layer of chocolate over the underside of the cap. Attach the stem and leave the mushroom (upside down) until the chocolate hardens. 

Related Recipes You May Like

Meringue Cookies

Homemade Marshmallows

Buttercrunch Toffee

Chocolate Truffles

Buche de Noel (Yule Log)

Chocolate Peanut Squares

Meringue Mushrooms: Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Have two pastry bags ready (one for piping the caps and stems and one for gluing them together). Fit one small pastry bag with a number 3 (1/16 inch diameter) (.2 cm) round plain tip (used to glue the stems and caps together) and one large pastry bag with a number 6 (1/2 inch diameter) (1 1/4 cm) round plain tip (for stems and caps).  Fold down the tops of the bags to form a deep cuff on the outside and place each bag in a tall narrow glass for support. This will make it easy to transfer the meringue to the pastry bags.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F (100 degrees C) and place 2 oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.

In bowl of electric mixer, at moderately slow speed, beat the room temperature egg whites until foamy.  Add the cream of tartar and beat at medium speed until soft peaks form.  Continue beating (increasing speed to high), gradually adding the superfine sugar, until the whites are very stiff and glossy.  (You want to make sure that the sugar has dissolved completely - to test rub a little of the meringue between your fingers.)

With a rubber spatula place approximately 1/4 cup of the meringue in the pastry bag with the small tip (used to glue the caps and stems together).  Place the remainder of the meringue in the large pastry bag.

To Pipe Caps: Holding the pastry bag upright and close to the parchment paper, pipe the meringue with even pressure, into even rounds building up the meringue to form a 2 inch (5 cm) round that is about 1 inch (2.5 cm) high.  Sharply twist the bag and stop the pressure as you slowly move the tip off the meringue.  Try to make the top as smooth as possible but use a wet fingertip to smooth out any bumps.

To Pipe Stems: Holding the pastry bag upright and close to the parchment paper, pipe the meringue with even pressure, into a cone-shape, making the base of the stem a little larger than the top.  The stem should be about 1 inch (2.54 cm) high.  Try to keep the stems as straight as possible.  Some of the stems may fall over on their sides during baking, so it is a good idea to make extra.

Bake the meringues for approximately one hour, or until the mushrooms are firm enough that they can be lifted from the baking sheet without sticking.  Rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back (about three quarters of the way through) to ensure even baking.

Remove from oven and with a small sharp knife, make a small hole in the middle of the underside of each mushroom cap.  Using the small pastry bag fitted with the 1/l6 inch tip, pipe a little bit of meringue in the hole and gently press the top of the stem into the hole.

Place the mushrooms, caps down, on a parchment lined baking sheet and return to oven for about 15 - 30 minutes, or until the mushroom are dry.  Remove from oven and lightly dust the tops of the mushrooms with cocoa powder.  Use a small pastry or paint brush to smudge the cocoa powder, if desired.

Store in an airtight container for several weeks.

Makes about 24 - 30 mushrooms (depending on size)

References:

Heatter, Maida. Maida Heatter 's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts. Alfred A Knopf. New York: 1984.

 

 

Meringue Mushrooms:

2 large (60 grams) egg whites, room temperature

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 cup (100 grams) superfine (caster) white sugar (if you don't have superfine sugar simply take granulated white sugar and process it for about 30 seconds in a food processor).

 

 
 
     
 

 

 

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