Meringue Mushrooms

December 21, 2012

Every day till Christmas, we're bringing you 12 Days of Baking: 12 all-new baking recipes to lift holiday spirits -- from breakfast pastries to dinner rolls, and all the desserts you can handle.

Today: Merrill takes on meringue mushrooms, Buche de Noël style.

mushroom meringues

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My mother made lots of different Christmas cookies while we were growing up, and one of our favorites were her meringue mushrooms. Maybe it was because they looked like one thing but tasted like another, or because making them with her was such fun. Sometimes we made a Buche de Noël to go with them, but often we skipped that and just made the mushrooms.

They're a lot easier to make than you might think, and a great project for restless kids. Here's how you do it:

First, whip up a stiff meringue -- it should hold its peaks proudly.

Carefully load the meringue into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip.

Pipe even 1 1/2-inch rounds of meringue onto a parchment or silicone-lined baking sheet, leaving a little space in between.

Then pipe the mushroom stems, starting a little thicker at the base and then thinning out as you work upwards, creating a cone shape.

Dip your finger in a little water and gently smooth the tops of the little rounds. No need to worry about the stems, as you'll be trimming them after they're baked.

Bake the meringues in a slow oven until they're crisp throughout, but still pale.

Trim the points off the tops of the stems using a serrated knife, creating a flat plane.

Dip the bottoms of the round in melted chocolate (I add a little spice to mine).

mushroom meringues

Attach one of the stems to each of the chocolate-dipped mushroom caps, stand the mushrooms upright and chill them to set the chocolate.

mushroom meringues

Dust the tops of the mushrooms with cocoa powder to finish them off.

Meringue Mushrooms

Makes about 20 mushrooms

2 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup superfine sugar
3 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate
Large pinch cinnamon (optional)
Large pinch cayenne (optional)

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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I'm a native New Yorker, Le Cordon Bleu graduate, former food writer/editor turned entrepreneur, mother of two, and unapologetic lover of cheese.


I have got to try making these with my grandkids!
FutureChef December 23, 2012
Try the chocolate (meringue) version too from Alice Meldrich's Ooey, Gooey, Crispy, Crunchy! [Also... what's practical about a liberal arts degree--no offense.]
Waverly December 22, 2012
Thank you for the detailed instructions, Merrill. My goodness, these are exquisite. I think they will make a great family project with the children home for the Holidays.
Tucker &. December 21, 2012
These look absolutely awesome and sound so totally fun to make. I used to live in Park Slope, 8th Ave between Montgomery & Garfield. Now I cook in my Vermont country kitchen. Cheers!
Sarag December 21, 2012
Intrigued by the hits of spice--- think I'll try this daring twist even if my family of traditionalists squawk. And thanks for the pictures. Why, I am not sure, but it never occurred to me to cut off the top of the stems. I always have gone the more perilous route of "drilling"holes into the bottoms of the caps with a knife tip.