Continuing in the Christmas Cookie series this post will feature the Meringue Mushrooms, and then the next post in this short series will end with the Bûchettes de Noël.
Probably the first reference to these delightful treats was from Maida Heatter who is among one of the better-known cookbook authors, especially concerning baking and desserts. These are another fun holiday dessert cookie treat and when dusted with cocoa powder take on an almost perfect mushroom look. This recipe calls for superfine sugar, which is not the same as powdered sugar, but granulated sugar that is of a finer grain than normal sugar. If you cannot find superfine sugar, you can take normal granulated sugar and run in the bowl of a food processor until the finer grain is achieved. This cookie uses two pastry bags for piping, one for forming the caps and stems and the other to “glue” them together.
This recipe makes about 30 1 ½ – inch mushrooms. The ingredients and procedures in this recipe are modified but follow very closely with those found in the cookbook, Rose’s Christmas Cookies, by Rose Levy Beranbaum.
|¼ Cup||2 Ounces||Large Egg whites at room temperature|
|¼ Tsp||–||Cream of Tartar|
|½ Cup + 1 Tbsp||4 Ounces||Superfine sugar|
|1.||Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites in the bowl until frothy, then add the cream of tartar and continue to beat at medium speed then gradually add 2 tablespoons of the superfine sugar.|
|2.||Continue to beat until soft peaks form when the beater is raised, then add 1 tablespoon of superfine sugar and increase the speed to high. When stiff peaks form gradually beat in the remaining superfine sugar and continue to beat until very stiff and glossy.|
|3.||Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a #6 tip with most of meringue mixture and a smaller pastry bag fitted with a #3 tip. The larger bag is used to pipe the caps and stems, and the smaller bag is used to “glue” them together.|
|4.||To pipe the caps: Hold the large pastry bag upright with the tube slightly above a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Squeeze a steady even pressure flow of the meringue and raise the tube as the meringue begins to build up, but keep the tip buried in the meringue. When a well-rounded shape is achieved, stop the pressure as you bring the tip out of the meringue, then use the tip to shave off any point that might form, moving clock-wise. On the other hand, to remove any points that form use a moistened fingertip to press them down into the meringue.|
|5.||To pipe the stems: Hold the pastry bag upright with the tube touching the lined baking sheet. Squeeze with a heavy pressure with the tip buried in the meringue until you create a cone about ¾ inch high and wide at the base and tapered toward the top.|
|6.||Allow the caps and stems to air-dry for at least one hour or until set.|
|7.||Pre-heat oven to 200° F and bake the caps and stems for 45 minutes or until the mushrooms are firm enough to be lifted from the lined baking sheets.|
|8.||With a small paring knife, make a small hole in the bottom and center of each cap, then put a small dab of the wet meringue from the smaller pastry bag to “glue” and attach a stem. Do this for all the caps and stems.|
|9.||Place the mushrooms back to the sheet pan and return to the low temperature oven for another 20 minutes or until completely dry.|
- For better texture use old egg whites
- Ensure that the bowl, beater and egg whites are free of grease, including even a speck of egg yolk
- Egg whites can be frozen for up to 1 year
- Do not open the oven door during the first three quarters of the drying stages, this will cause cracking of the meringue
- Meringue will stick to wax paper, do not use it
- Avoid crowding the cookie sheet, spread out the caps and stems to ensure even air space
- Both volume and weight measurements have been given in this recipe as professional bakers and pastry chefs utilize weighted products and specifications for their recipes and formulas. Weighted ingredients give more control over the product and omit any variation due to storage temperature, humidity and elevation differences
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