Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mushrooms from the kitchen.....not from the woods.

I first found a recipe for meringue mushrooms in a Bon Appetit magazine. The issue dates to November 1980 with a cover that features noted cooks and food writers, Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey. Looking back, this issue has played a part in the development for our love of cooking.

Every Christmas since 1980 these meringue mushrooms, along with a Buche de Noel have been part of our Christmas dinner.

Piping the meringue mushroom caps

Piping the meringue mushroom stems

After baking, sifting cocoa onto the mushroom caps

Dipping the top of stem into melted dark chocolate connect the stem to cap


This recipe has been adapted over thirty years from a variety of recipes beginning with the one from a 1980 Bon Appetit magazine article by pastry chef Albert Jorant.

2 egg whites at room temperature
1/2 cup superfine sugar

1 tablespoon cocoa (for dusting caps)
2 oz. semisweet chocolate, good quality, finely chopped for melting

Line two baking sheets with parchment, one for mushroom caps,one for stems.
Preheat oven to 225 degrees.
Beat egg whites , when soft peaks begin to form begin to add sugar slowly.
Continue beating until stiff peaks form and the meringue is still glossy.
Spoon meringue into a pastry bag with a large plain tip.
(I stand the pastry bag in a tall sturdy water glass while I fill it).
Pipe out the caps on one sheet and the stems on the other. Keep count so you end up with equal amounts of caps to stems.
Note: Have a small cup of water so that you can dip your finger in to gently smooth out the tops of caps if needed,and to tap the tops of stems to make a flattened surface. This will make it easier to attach the stems to caps.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until crisp, but not browned.
The stems make bake quicker then the stems.
Turn oven off, let the meringues remain in oven for another 10 minutes to be sure they are dry.
Remove from oven, cool on wire racks. Put the caps on separate cooling rack with a piece of parchment or waxed paper beneath it. With caps tops up, lightly sift cocoa over the almost cooled , still warm caps.
Cool completely. Over hot (not boiling)water, melt the chocolate. When melted dip flat end of stem into chocolate and attach it to the cap.
Note: I find resting them on their sides on a parchment covered baking sheet, propped up against the edge, helps keep them together as they cool.
Let chocolate cool completely.

Serve with a Buche de Noel
or in an attractive basket.
They really do fool the eye and taste devine!

This 1980 issue of Bon Appetite brought James a recipe for English Butter Toffee that he makes every Christmas. It brought us through our first turkey roasting success.
Cookbooks by Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey were our earliest guides for cooking and enjoying food. This is not only about
cooking for holidays, but for James and I cook together every day. We have been on this food journey ever since!

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