source: adapted from Ina Garten, How Easy Is That?
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16 extra-large white mushrooms (or about 3 dozen medium to large white mushrooms)
5 tablespoons good olive oil, divided
2 1/2 tablespoons Marsala wine or medium sherry
3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from the casings
1/4 tsp ground fennel
2 large shallots, chopped
2/3 cup panko crumbs
5 ounces mascarpone cheese, preferably from Italy
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.Remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop them finely. Set aside. Place the mushroom caps in a shallow bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and Marsala. Set aside.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage, crumbling it with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook the sausage for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until it’s completely browned. Add the chopped mushroom stems and cook for 3 more minutes. Stir in the ground fennel and shallots and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the panko crumbs, stirring to combine evenly with all the other ingredients. Finally, swirl in the mascarpone and continue cooking until the mascarpone has melted and made the sausage mixture creamy. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan, parsley, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cool slightly.
Fill each mushroom generously with the sausage mixture. Arrange the mushrooms in a baking dish large enough to hold all the mushrooms in a snug single layer. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the stuffing is browned and crusty.
Meringue mushrooms piped out onto a Silpat covered baking sheet. Baked at 250℉ / 120℃ for about an hour and a half. (great step by step guide here)
* 3 egg whites whipped to stiff peaks with
* 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
* 1/3 cup cane sugar
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
The mushroom caps are squished out rather flatly, the stems pulled up rather tall. Just do best you can manage. Press down the peaks with a wet finger, should peaks form which they probably will. Otherwise your mushrooms will have pointed peaks and that's just wrong! Kidding. Actually, you can cut off the peaks of the stems once they're sufficiently dried in order to create a flat surface for the ganache glue to adhere to the bottom of the cap.
Smear ganache or plain ol' melted chocolate onto the bottoms of the caps like mushroom gills, and onto the top of the stems and glue together. Position upside down to help the chocolate set. Mind, the chocolate is merely melted, not tempered, so the bond will not be as strong but it'll suffice for this. Incidentally, these little vanilla meringue mushrooms with spots of chocolate are oddly delicious, in a cotton candy sort of way. Kids would really dig 'em. I recommend making extras just in case you goof. Plus they're fun.
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/6 or so cup milk. Cream would be better but I don't have any of that right now.
Zap for 20 or so seconds until the milk foams. Stir. At first it looks hopeless, but keep stirring until all the milk (or cream) is incorporated. It takes a little while for it to complete. If it's too thin, then add a little more chocolate chips while it's still warm. The chocolate need only be a few degrees warmer than body temperature for this to work so don't overdo it with the zapping. Zap, of course means microwave. If you don't have one of those, then a few seconds on the stovetop should do it. Just enough to get the liquid warmer than your body, which should be about 100℉ / 38℃ or a little bit more. This is the thing about chocolate; it's a gentle art.
The real cake for this sort of thing is a Génoise or another type of sponge cake, and the real frosting is a buttercream, but I didn't bother with that because I'm not trying to impress anybody I just wanted to try my hand at meringue mushrooms and to see if I could come close. This is what I learned: I need to get a few larger platters. I have a few that are silver but they're a pain in the butt. I have about eight inches of extra rolled cake that didn't fit on my platter. I also learned this boxed cake is a little bit too tender. I need something sturdier. Also, those meringue mushrooms don't last forever. I have no idea how to protect them for anywhere longer than, say, a day. But all in all, in'nit it purdy?
Dust the finished mushrooms with cocoa once they're stuck to the log.