Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Champignons et Bois

In the same breath as Buche de Noel, I must talk about my love of little French meringue mushrooms. These speak to my whimsical side, and they are also sweet and also natural; even if you hate any kind of funghi, I guarantee you will love these, which are part of the traditional garnish for a Buche de Noel cake~
The recipe is very simple:

Preheat oven to 225 degrees (F).

In the Mixmaster bowl add the following:

1/2 cup egg whites
1 cup sugar (I use the fine "baking sugar")
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla (I use less)

Add a handful more sugar, for a thicker meringue. Beat on high speed til you get a very stiff meringue. Fill a pastry sleeve fitted with a wide circle attachment. Pipe in two sets onto a silpat or wax paper:

The bases can be fat and short or tall and skinny or whatever shape you like; I like tall bases so mine look like this; they should look like Hershey's kisses no matter how tall~

Pipe the tops separately, into various rounds. Make different sizes for contrast.
Using a bowl of very hot water, dip your finger in the hot water then pat down the tip of the meringue, to round off the tops, like a mushroom cap~
Bake for about an hour; slow is better, and don't overcook or they will become a little tanned; meringue doesn't really have to bake it has to dry out~
Remove from the silpat or wax paper; I use a flat icing spatula; using a knife tip or wooden skewer tip, make a small hole in the bottom of the cap top~
Here you can use royal icing, more meringue, or chocolate or even glue (if not edible, be SURE to note, which is why I do not use glue!), I use melted chocolate; heat the chocolate over warm water; you need a small amount; brush onto the cap and fill in the hole~

pair the cap up with a base that is suitable~
dust with cocoa powder; I use coco powder and powdered sugar because I think the coco alone looks kinda dirty and I prefer a fairytale look like this~
These can be used for garnish, for fun, for dessert poppers (which is why I never use glue on them, they will all be eaten or taken home I guarantee) and for the buche de Noel cake. I decided to use them in my holiday decor......

I took Honey & Biscuit to my fav tree place on Sunday night, and they had ALL KINDS of rounds of tree base slices on the ground; here at bottom left~

Last summer, I took these pics; the name marker come from Grand Bernard in Switzerland; the man there will make up the signs you need within a week. Shame no one here makes this kind of saucisson sec; but this vendor and his wife are in the Saturday market in Beaune as well as Monday in Louhan; these signs are perfect for their booth. Anyway, we had long talk of Switzerland and these wood signs~
I took the wood slices I found at the Christmas tree place and decided to make a folly out of them. I picked a few pieces of rosemary in the dark, brush of modge podge and roll in sugar; glue gun into a sheet of moss and glue that onto the wood slice~
In the foreground, brush with modge podge and add in the meringue mushrooms and the lone deer left; the salt and sugar leftover from the candles finish the front. A few vintage shiny-brites finish the look. It makes a cute round and I will use them maybe for placecards, maybe on the drinks table.
My nieces will be home this week and I will get them busy helping me; they love the creative exercise and can take this and make it their own; Christmas fun!!!


  1. Andrea this is such a wonderful idea, and as you say a terrific project for the kids as well! Beautiful!


    Art by Karena

  2. Those look great--and fun!

    I plan to make bread today!

  3. Oh my GOSH, it's just adorable. I would be very tempted to slide that into purse. Okay of course I WOULDN'T but you know, I would be tempted.

  4. Oh I don't think I ever told you but Alyssa has a tiny tattoo behind her (right? left?) ear. (No, mama was not happy!!!) But you don't know it is there unless you know her well.
    What is it? A pair of tiny deer hoofprints. :)Long story.

  5. My daughter made the topping for the buche de Noel years ago. She even painted the underside of the caps with two different colors of chocolate. We painted Camellia leaves with chocolate, peeled them off, when they cooled, sprinkling them throughout the mushrooms, finally, we laid the whole thing out on a silver tray for out center piece. We ate them for dessert, and never got a photo!!
    I will send her a link to remind her of this fabulous and arduous moment.

  6. So sweet (in more ways than one1), Only you Andrea would make these lovely centerpieces. XO

  7. Oh how *sweet* this is. I'm loving your beautiful blog!