Ok, I know – the title of this post made you go “WHAT?!”. I’ll totally admit that I never would have tried this recipe on a title only description. A unique set of circumstances led me to make these – and I’m really glad I did.
Today I made some banana cream pies and as a result of using 10 egg yolks, had a TON of egg whites to get rid of. My family is coming over tomorrow for a birthday dinner for my Dad – and my sister Jessica has Celiac Disease. Which means a whole lot of lousy stuff for her, but the biggest impact for me is that she cannot eat gluten. That stuff is in EVERYTHING! She doesn’t get to eat the pies because of the crust. Sadness. Obviously I can’t leave her out in no-dessert land all alone. So I decided to make her favorite, meringues. While looking up recipes for the little puffs of sugar and egg whites, I found this odd little recipe title. It intrigued me. Then I saw a photo of a completed “mushroom” and I was sold. I decided to name them after my sister because it combines two of her most favorite foods in the entire world. Mushrooms, and meringues. Go figure that I’d be able to make them together! Maybe I’ll tie them in to my dad’s party tomorrow with a little note next to them that says “Dad is sure a fun guy”. Get it? I know, I will never make it in life as a comedian.
Jessica (my sister) is one of the most fabulous people on the planet. For starters, of my four siblings, she’s the only one with the pleasure of being my “big sister”. Which means she had to deal with me always trying to be as good, as fast, as smart – as everything – as her. Poor her. As the oldest of 5 kids, she frequently was the guinea pig on a lot of things – kind of like this recipe is a total “try it and see what happens”. Just like my sister, this recipe is totally unique. I’ve never met anyone like my Jessie – and I’m sure you’ll never see another recipe that combines egg whites, mushrooms and chocolate. Jess is a bit like a meringue actually. Sometimes she seems hard on the outside – difficult to get to know really, but inside she’s all fluffy and sweet. Possibly one of the most truly thoughtful and sweet, devoted friends you’d ever be blessed enough to have. Occasionally I think to myself that Jessica is just bizarre. Often I tell her that out loud. Equally strange are these mushrooms. However, I wouldn’t change a thing about her. She has raised five children – and I have no idea how she does it…especially how she does it and stays sane. Her children are absolute joys to have around. Polite, kind, smart, energetic and with priorities exactly where they should be. Jessica has given each of her kids the tremendous gift of allowing them to be who they are, still with rules, but with enough freedom to be individuals in a world of cookie-cutter people. These meringues have some of those same qualities – they’re kind of a lot of work (like I’m sure raising that many munchkins is), but they are absolutely one of a kind. Each one has its own personality. And they are adorable. Just like the hero of my childhood. My big sister Jessica.
Meringue Mushrooms – from allrecipes.com
- 1/2 cup egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
- Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F (110 degrees C). Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- In a large glass or metal bowl, use an electric mixer to whip egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar, salt, and vanilla. Continue whipping until the whites hold soft peaks. Gradually sprinkle in the sugar so that it does not sink to the bottom, and continue whipping until the mixture holds stiff shiny peaks.
- Place a round tip into a pastry bag (or use a Ziploc bag and cut off the end – which is what I did), and fill the bag half way with the meringue. To pipe the mushroom caps, squeeze out round mounds of meringue onto one of the prepared cookie sheets. Pull the bag off to the side to avoid making peaks on the top. Refill bag as necessary. For the stems, press out a tiny bit of meringue onto the other sheet, then pull the bag straight up. They should resemble candy kisses. Do not worry about making all of the pieces exactly the same. The mushrooms will look more natural if the pieces are different sizes. Dust the mushroom caps lightly with cocoa using a small sifter or strainer.
- Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until the caps are dry enough to easily remove from the cookie sheets. Set aside to cool completely. Melt the coating chocolate in a metal bowl over simmering water, or in a glass bowl in the microwave, stirring occasionally until smooth.
- Poke a small hole in the bottom of a mushroom cap. Spread chocolate over the bottom of the cap. Dip the tip of a stem in chocolate, and press lightly into the hole. When the chocolate sets, they will hold together. Repeat with remaining pieces. Store at room temperature in a dry place or tin.
*If you can find a green basket or styrofoam basket like mushrooms come in at the store – these would be totally adorable as a little gift. The best I had in the house was this plastic tub.