Mushroom Meringues

mushroom meringues
These mushroom meringues may well be the most magical things I’ve made all year. I honestly couldn’t stop smiling after making a batch of these because they just looked so….mushroomy! These fungi confections are a traditional decoration for Buche de Noel (I used them to decorate a “Yule Log” cake), but they would also make a quirky addition to a cookie box or a sweet little stocking stuffer. They aren’t difficult to make, but they do take a bit of time. However, you can easily break up the work over a few days — just bake the meringues one day, and decorate while watching your favorite cheesy holiday movie!

A few notes:

  • This recipe is easily scalable. The basic proportion I used is 1 part egg whites to 1.5 parts sugar. (You can use 1:2 if you want them sweeter, but honestly they were plenty sweet for me.)
  • If you want your mushrooms to stand on their own, keep the caps on the smaller side (maybe 1-2 inches across) and the stems on the shorter, squatter side.
  • If you’re using these mushrooms to decorate a buche de noel or something of that sort, it’s perfectly fine (and even desirable) to have caps and stems of different sizes and lengths — it adds to the whimsy and realism! You can always use a dab of frosting to stick them down so you don’t have to worry if they don’t stand on their own.
  • If you make a mistake piping, just use a spatula to scoop up the meringue and put it back into the piping bag.

mushroom meringues 2
mushroom meringues in egg carton

Mushroom Meringues

Makes 20-24 medium mushrooms

Ingredients:

  • 70g egg whites (about 2 large)
  • 105g caster sugar
  • Large pinch of salt
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • Seeds of half a vanilla bean or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 50g white chocolate or white candy melts
  • Cocoa powder for dusting

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 225F. Line one large (or two medium) sheet pans with parchment paper. Prepare a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip (I used a 1/2″ one).
  2. Put the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat on medium low until frothy, then add the salt and cream of tartar.
  3. Turn the speed up to medium and continue beating until the meringue holds soft peaks. Add the sugar a spoonful at a time, waiting about 10-15 seconds between additions.
  4. When all the sugar has been added, turn up the speed to medium high and continue beating until the meringue is glossy and holds very stiff peaks. Add the vanilla bean seeds (or vanilla extract) and whip until combined.
  5. Transfer half the meringue to the prepared pastry bag. Use a dab of meringue in each corner of the sheet pan to “glue” the parchment paper down. To pipe the caps, hold the pastry bag vertically about 1/2 an inch above the baking sheet and squeeze (without moving the bag) to form a round. When the cap is your desired size, stop squeezing and flick your wrist to complete the cap. Continue piping rounds until you’ve used up all the meringue in the bag. They won’t spread or puff much so you can pipe them quite close. If you have any peaks of meringue, use a damp finger to flatten and smooth out the caps.
  6. Fill the bag with the remaining meringue and pipe stems. Again, hold the bag vertically about 1/2 an inch above the baking sheet. Squeeze and slowly lift the bag, then stop squeezing but continue lifting to form “kisses”. Continue piping until you’ve used up all the meringue. (You’ll want to pipe a few more stems than caps as they’re more likely to topple or break.)
  7. Bake the meringues until they’re completely dry and release easily from the parchment, about 80-90 minutes. Turn the oven off and let the meringues cool down completely (a few hours or overnight).
  8. When the meringues are completely cool, use a microplane to shave down the tops of the stems so they’re flat. Dust some cocoa powder over the mushroom caps if desired. Smudge the cocoa with your finger to get your desired “dirty” look. Smudge a little on the stems as well if you like. (I used different cocoa powders — natural, Dutch processed, and black — to get a variety of looks, but use whatever you have or like.)
  9. Melt the white chocolate or candy melts. Use a small paring knife or flower nail to make a small hole in the bottom of a cap. (Work gently so you don’t pierce all the way through!).* Use a chopstick to widen the hole so the end of the stem will fit inside. Dip the end of the stem in melted chocolate, then stand the stem up. Carefully but firmly push the stem through the hole. Using a small brush, dab a little extra white chocolate around the join to seal. Set the mushroom in the well of an egg carton to allow the chocolate to set. Store in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks.
  • *Note: you can also just “glue” the stems to the caps without making a hole. I tried both ways and found the hole method to be a little more secure and realistic-looking, though more time consuming…