Parchment paper or aluminum foil to line a couple cookie sheets.
Pastry bag and a round tip, about 1/2 inch—obviously, a smaller tip will make small mushrooms and a big tip (1 inch) with make portobellos. If you don't have a pastry bag, use a large freezer bag and cut off a corner to make a 1/2 inch opening.
A 225-degree oven
This should make about 4 dozen mushrooms.
Mix the egg white, salt, and cream of tartar together with an electric mixer. When the whites are creamy, start gradually adding the sugar. When all the sugar is in, add the vanilla and mix on high until the whites are stiff, but still creamy. The whites should hold a peak if you touch them and pull away.
Line cookie sheets with foil or parchment paper—use a dab of meringue under the corners to keep the paper in place.
Fill a pastry bag with the meringue.
First, make stems—Squeeze out about a teaspoon of meringue and pull straight up.
Next, make the caps—Squeeze out small lumps of meringue. Smooth out the peaks with a moistened knife.
Bake for an hour at 225 degrees F, then turn off the oven and let them completely dry out—this might take an hour. You'll know they are done when they are crisp and they peel off the foil.
To assemble the mushrooms, use the tip of a paring knife to poke a hole in the underside of each cap. Dab a little frosting on the tip of each stem for cement, then put a cap on a stem.
To make them look more natural, put a spoonful of cocoa in a fine strainer. Gently tap the strainer as you pass it over the mushrooms. (Practice this over a sheet of wax paper.)
Note: If your house is dry, the mushrooms will stay crisp for several days. But if you live in a very humid environment, the mushrooms will soften quickly, sometimes within hours. Also, if you store the cake in the refrigerator, the mushrooms will soften. They'll be fine, just not as crisp.
Both chef and musician, John Ryan wrote the Just Good Food blog from 1996 through 2001.
This page created 1997. Modified August 2007.
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