Monday, December 19, 2016

Fungus Among Us

What's the best thing about the holidays? My adorable "Meringue Mushrooms." They are super easy and only require four ingredients: egg whites, sugar, chocolate, and cocoa powder! You use plastic sandwich bags to pipe the mushroom caps and stems, which takes a little practice, but you just get better and better as you go. The mushrooms are dusted with cocoa powder at the end, so that diminishes any imperfections. These make excellent gifts, packaged in recycled mushroom containers or in glass jars, and are the perfect companion to Buche de Noel. These go so fast, I usual make several batches throughout the holidays. They are so cute, you have to try it!


Meringue Mushrooms

Makes about 50

Ingredients:

2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate, chopped or chips
Cocoa powder, for dusting

Directions:

Heat the oven to 200 degrees. 

In a stand mixer, beat the egg whites and sugar until smooth and glossy, and soft peaks start to form, about 6-8 minutes.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Fill a sandwich bag with about 1/2 cup of the meringue. Press the air out of the bag and seal shut. Cut one tip off the bottom of the bag and coax the meringue to that corner. Twist the bag to help hold the meringue in place. With the cut tip close to the parchment, gently squeeze out the meringue to form the mushroom cap. (Don't lift the bag up until the cap spreads out, then lift.) 


To make the stems, gently squeeze and lift, to make a sort of "kiss" shape. Make as many stems as you have caps. Dip your finger into some water, dab any excess water onto a towel, and then smooth out the tops of the caps with a gentle patting motion.  


When your baking sheet is full, place in the oven, and bake until completely dry and easily releases from the parchment. This can take anywhere from 2-3 hours, depending on the oven and humidity. If they start to brown, turn the oven temperature down. To check if they are done, try to lift one of the less attractive caps, if it releases easily, then press the bottom of the cap. If it smooshes easily, it's not done. If it's firm, it's done. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet.

Now, holding one mushroom cap, gently twist the tip of a small sharp knife into the bottom of the cap. Keep twisting until you have a hole in the bottom, like drilling. Don't press too hard, or you will crack the cap. Repeat with the remaining caps.

In another sandwich bag, place the chocolate inside, do not seal the bag, and microwave 15 seconds at a time, smooshing the chocolate after each interval with your fingers, until the chocolate is smooth and melted. Allow to cool slightly. You don't want it runny. Seal the bag, cut one of the bottom tips, and squeeze a little chocolate into one of the cap holes. Insert one of the stems, point side first, into the cap. Set aside to dry. Repeat with the remaining caps and stems.

Finally, using a fine sieve, dust the tops of the mushrooms with cocoa powder. Admire how cute they are and pop one in your mouth. Enjoy!

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