Recipe:Meringue Mushrooms

Every now and then, I will post one of my favorite chocolate recipes here. I have decided to start with one of my most special recipes, one that is both unusual and crowd-pleasing, especially with children. I’ll give the recipe first, followed by a step-by-step instruction with photos.

Meringue Mushrooms

  • 8 egg whites
  • 0.5 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1.5 cups superfine sugar*
  • 16 oz dark chocolate
  • 3 tablespoons of cocoa

* superfine sugar is NOT confectioner’s sugar or 10X sugar. If you cannot find superfine sugar in your grocery store, it’s easy to make. Just put granulated sugar in a blender or food processor, and blend it for 1 minute.

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Using the egg whites at room temperature, beat them and the tartar with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
  3. Add the sugar a little at a time while continuing to beat, until all the sugar is in and the mixture is glossy and stiff.
  4. Using a piping bag with a no. 8 tip, pipe out an equal number of caps and stems onto an ungreased non-stick cookie sheet (you can also use parchment paper on the cookie sheet, but do NOT use foil). The caps should be about the diameter of a quarter, and the stems should be about an inch high and the diameter of a soda straw.
  5. Sprinkle cocoa over the caps and stems, and then blow on them to spread out the cocoa more evenly. You may want to do this outside, as cocoa goes everywhere.
  6. Bake for 2 hours at 200 degrees.
  7. Carefully remove the caps and stems from the cookie sheet.
  8. With a dull knife, snip the top of each stem so it has a flat top surface. Melt the chocolate (in a double boiler or microwave).
  9. Spread the chocolate on the base of each cap with a butter knife or spatula, and use it to glue a stem in place.
  10. Put the assembled mushrooms in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to harden the chocolate, then put them in an airtight container.

Makes 8 dozen mushrooms

And now for a step-by-step instruction.

I start with my insulated baking sheets.

I bring eight eggs to room temperature. These eight eggs will make one hundred cookies.

Kitchen Aid chef’s eye action shot!

The oven preheats to 200 degrees. These cookies are not really baked, they are dried.

I separate the egg whites from the yolks.

I learned how to separate egg whites in the shell, which really speeds up the process.

I get two cups of superfine or ultrafine sugar. Granulated sugar makes the cookies too gritty.

I add some cream of tartar so the meringue is nice and fluffy.

I pour in the sugar slowly while the egg whites are being whipped.

The whole whipping process takes less than five minutes.

The finished meringue, whipped to stiff peaks.

I put meringue into a pastry bag loaded with a number 8 tip.

I pipe the stems while the meringue is still relatively cool.

My hands will heat up the meringue in the bag, so I pipe the caps with the warmed meringue.

I ended up making three trays this time – two and a half of caps and half of stems.

I add cocoa to a fine mesh strainer.

The cocoa is tapped over the caps and stems, making them look brown and spotted.

The “secret” step – blowing off the excess cocoa. I always do this outdoors, after the Great Kitchen Cocoa Cloud of 1997.

The trays go into the oven for two hours. Remember, they are just drying out, not baking.

The finished dried meringue stems and caps.

I trim the pointed tops of the stems so they can be glued to the caps with melted chocolate.

Here’s a few dozen stems waiting to be glued to caps.

I spread melted chocolate onto the caps.

I push a stem into the chocolate.

I put 8 to 10 caps onto a plate.

The plate goes into the refrigerator for 5 minutes to set the chocolate.

The finished mushrooms go into a tupperware bin to keep them from getting soft.

Here’s a closeup of the finished batch of mushrooms.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I have!

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A new spin on an old classic

Mark, a friend and co-worker, found this chocolate on his many trips around California and Washington state in 2001.

He found this in Seattle. It was like a fancy Reese’s peanut butter cup, which is one of the few “classic” chocolate candies that I really like. This was even better, made with good-quality chocolate and peanut butter. I have been to Seattle since then, but I have never visited one of Fran’s Chocolates three locations.

Droste

In February of 2001, I tasted my first chocolate from Holland, in the form of little tablets from a company named Droste.

They were very good bittersweet chocolate tablets, or pastilles. A pastille is intended to be put into your mouth and allowed to melt, so the chocolate has to be high quality with a lot of cocoa butter so it will melt at body temperature. Tempered chocolate, which has additional oils added, will not melt in your mouth. I never found out if Droste pastilles could melt in my mouth, because I just chewed them up as fast I could. They were that good!

And now, here’s my Asse

How could I not buy a bar named Angel Sweets Asse?

I used to wonder how a company, even a Japanese company like Morinaga, could put out a product named “Asse” and not know what kind of reaction it would get in English-speaking countries. I mean, this is like the Chevy Nova fiasco, where the car would not sell in Spanish-speaking countries because “no va” means “doesn’t go”, which is not a good name for a car.

But it turns out that this bar is named after a town in Belgium, which used to be called “Assche” but they dropped the “ch” some time back. Asse the town isn’t known for chocolate (it does make good beer, however), but Belgium is known for its fantastic chocolates, so I suppose Morinaga just wanted to honor them and perhaps associate themselves with a well-known chocolate-making country. But still…Asse?

And here’s the amazing thing…it is really good milk chocolate! It is whipped or aerated or something, because it has lots of little bubbles in it. Very yummy!