When you think of your favorite desserts, chances are mushrooms are nowhere to be seen on the ingredients list. Most of us are used to thinking of fungi as purely savory in their applications to cooking.
However, there’s an extensive history and tradition of mushroom representation in baking that may surprise you. Furthermore, thanks to the modern-day ubiquity of fungal supplements like turkey tail mushroom powder, baking with mushrooms has reached a whole new level.
Check out these five amazing mushroom dessert ideas to elevate your baking to new heights in terms of originality and health consciousness.
The first step in your mushroom dessert journey should be learning to use mushroom powder. This antioxidant-rich supplement can be ingested by a spoonful to enhance brain activity, and it can also be added to chocolate desserts to enrich the cocoa’s earthy flavor.
For your first foray into baking with fungus, try making these sumptuous chocolate mushroom brownies with nutrient-rich Chaga powder.
- 4 tablespoons cocoa powder, unsweetened
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 2 tablespoons chaga powder (can substitute another type of mushroom powder)
- ¼ teaspoon salt or sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup dates, pitted and chopped
- ¾ cup butter (1 ½ sticks)
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C).
- Use a food processor to grind the oats into a fine powder the consistency of flour.
- Combine the dry ingredients (oats, cocoa, chaga, salt, and baking soda) in a bowl and set aside.
- Blend the butter and dates using your food processor until they form a thick paste.
- Stir in the egg and vanilla. Use a spoon rather than whipping or beating the egg.
- Pour the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and stir until combined. The resulting batter should be thick and shiny.
- Spread the batter into a greased pan, about 8×8 inches.
- Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Check the brownies after 12 minutes by inserting a toothpick or skewer into the center. If there are moist crumbs clinging to the probe, the brownies are done.
- Cool the pan on a wire rack before cutting brownies.
The best part about cooking and baking with mushroom power is that various powders have different health benefits as well as flavors. You can switch out the Chaga powder in this recipe for another type of mushroom, or combine multiple mushrooms for additional benefits. For example, if you’re making a batch of brownies during cold and flu season, consider adding turkey tail mushroom powder for immune support.
Remember, mushrooms vary dramatically when it comes to flavor. If you aren’t sure whether a given type of powder will mix well with chocolate, sample the combination first!
Candy Cap Mushroom Cupcakes
If you’ve never heard of candy caps, you’re in for a serious treat. These unique fungi, which primarily grow in the Northwestern and Central United States, have an aroma and flavor that is eerily reminiscent of maple syrup. If that sounds hard to believe, you really won’t believe how delicious these candy cap mushroom cupcakes are.
- 18 candy cap mushrooms, dried
- 2 cups lukewarm or cool water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- ¾ room temperature butter (1 ½ sticks), unsalted
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 large eggs
- ⅔ cup plain Greek yogurt
- ⅔ cup mushroom syrup with mushrooms removed
- 18 dried candy caps
- ½ cup room temperature butter (1 stick), unsalted
- 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
- ¼ cup mushroom syrup with mushrooms removed
- 18 rehydrated candy cap mushrooms from syrup (for decoration)
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F (163 degrees C). Prepare a cupcake tray with 18 liners.
- To make the syrup, soak candy caps in water for 15 minutes to rehydrate them. Add the sugar, then bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat. Cook for about 20 minutes, tasting every now and then to make sure the syrup is sweet enough.
- To make the cupcakes, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda in one bowl. Beat the butter and sugar in a separate bowl until fluffy, then add beat in eggs and yogurt until fully blended.
- Fold the flour mixture and mushroom syrup into the egg mixture, alternating between the two. Fill your cupcake tins about ¾ full. Stick a single dried candy cap into the center of each cupcake standing up.
- Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick or skewer inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting or else the icing will melt.
- To make the frosting, mix butter and powdered sugar until thoroughly combined. Stir in the mushroom syrup and spread the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes. Top your creations with one rehydrated candy cap each for a gorgeous presentation that will immediately pique curiosity.
Since this is a sweet and delicate dessert, we recommend steering clear of using turkey tail mushroom or any other strong or bitter powders when making it. You don’t want to pull focus from the distinctive syrupy flavor of the candy caps.
Savory Mushroom Cheesecake
Who said all desserts have to be sweet? If you haven’t experimented with savory desserts before, baking a mushroom cheesecake is a perfect way to start. The earthiness of the fungus enhances the richness of the cream cheese and prevents the dessert from acquiring a cloying or overly sweet taste.
This savory cheesecake provides an excellent opportunity to combine traditional culinary mushrooms such as portabellos with health foods like turkey tail mushroom powder. The strong, bitter flavor of the turkey tail mushroom is usurped by the combination of rich portabello, aromatic walnut, and zingy thyme.
- 1 cup dry breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup melted butter
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ½ pound cleaned and chopped baby portabellos
- 1 garlic clove, pressed or minced
- ⅓ cup walnuts, chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- 16 oz softened cream cheese (2 packages)
- ½ Greek yogurt, plain
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 teaspoons additional turkey tail mushroom powder or other powder (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F (163 degrees C).
- Grease the sides and bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Mix the crust ingredients together, then press the mixture onto the pan’s bottom. Bake the crust 15-17 minutes until it turns golden brown; place on a wire rack to cool.
- Heat the butter in a large skillet. Use medium-high heat and watch carefully to avoid burning the butter. Stir in the mushrooms and cook until tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 additional minute.
- Add the walnuts and stir until toasted. Add seasonings (soy sauce, thyme, and white pepper); once thoroughly combined, remove from heat and cool to room temperature. If using turkey tail mushroom or another powder, add it along with the seasonings.
- Beat the cream cheese in a large bowl until smooth, then beat in the yogurt. Add the eggs one at a time and beat on the lowest speed until blended. Gently fold the cooled mushroom mixture into the cream cheese mixture and pour the batter over the crust.
- Set the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes. The center of the cheesecake should be just barely set, and the top of the cake should be dull rather than shiny.
- Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack before attempting to loosen the cake from the pan with a knife. After loosening, cool the cake for another hour on the rack. Refrigerate overnight to help the cake set completely and achieve a creamy texture.
This elegant dish is perfect to bring to a gathering, particularly if your friends prefer savory hors d’oeuvres over sweets. If you’re serving it with crackers, choose a delicate flavor that won’t get in the way of the aromatic combination of mushroom, walnut, and thyme. Apples or baguette slices are also a great choice.
Meringue Mushroom Cookies
These cunning little confections don’t actually have mushrooms in them, but they’re a surefire favorite for any fungi aficionado. Traditionally used to decorate Yule Log cakes at Christmas, mushroom meringues are both whimsical and delicious.
- ½ cup egg whites
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt or table salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, unsweetened
- 4 ounces confectioner’s chocolate, dark or milk
- Preheat your oven to 230 degrees F (110 degrees C). Line two baking trays with paper or foil.
- Whip egg whites with an electric mixer until they become foamy. Add salt, cream of tartar, and vanilla while continuing to whip. Add the sugar by sprinkling a little at a time, and keep whipping until stiff peaks form.
- Fill a pastry bag half full with the mixture. Pipe rounds of meringue onto one baking sheet to form mushroom caps; for the stems, pipe candy kiss shapes onto the other tray by pulling the bag straight up as you pipe. Dust the caps lightly with cocoa powder.
- Bake for one hour, then set aside to cool. Melt the chocolate in a double broiler or in the microwave, stirring occasionally. Be careful not to burn it!
- Poke tiny holes in the bottom of each mushroom cap, then spread chocolate over the bottom of the cap. Brush or dip the tip of each stem in chocolate and press the stems into the hole. The chocolate will glue the pieces together as it sets.
Use these delightful treats as a garnish for another sweet dish, or serve them on their own to add a touch of fantasy to your dessert table.
La La Land
Topped with smooth honey and sage ice cream and Tonka bean meringue, this ambitious riff on a crème brûlée may be considered the crème de la crème of baking with fungi. Try this one after you’ve perfected your baking skills. Making a crème brûlée takes patience, but the results are totally worth it.
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons ground porcini mushrooms
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 5 egg yolks
- ½ cup sugar plus additional sugar for topping
- 16 teaspoons sugar
- 3 egg whites
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- ¼ teaspoon grated Tonka bean
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- A pinch of salt
- 8-10 sage leaves with stems
- 6 egg yolks
- ½ cup wild honey
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F (163 degrees C).
- In a saucepan, combine heavy cream, milk, and ground mushrooms. Cook down until the mixture reduces by half.
- Combine egg yolks and sugar by lightly beating. Stir into the mushroom-cream mixture, then pour the combination into four ramekins. Bake in a water bath on low heat for one hour until the centers are just barely set.
- Cool on a wire rack, then refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Before adding the toppings, spread sugar over the top of each crème brûlée and broil for about 5 minutes until the sugar browns.
- Preheat your oven to 230 degrees F (110 degrees C).
- Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Add the sugar a teaspoon at a time and keep whisking until the mixture becomes glossy.
- Add the Tonka bean and cream of tartar and keep whisking until thoroughly combined.
- Drop the mixture by large spoonfuls on a paper-lined baking tray. Bake for about 1.5 hours. There should be enough for five meringues, one for each ramekin plus an extra just in case.
- Turn off the oven and let the meringues cool inside while you make your ice cream.
- Heat the whole milk, cream, salt, and sage leaves over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring constantly to avoid scalding. Remove from heat and let stand for one hour while the sage steeps. After one hour, remove the sage leaves.
- Bring the cream and milk mixture back up to a simmer. Add about a third of the mixture to a bowl with the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then pour the combination back into the simmering cream. Keep whisking as you heat the mixture up to 170 degrees F (77 degrees C).
- Remove from heat and add the honey and vanilla, still whisking constantly to maintain smoothness.
- Chill the mixture in the fridge, then churn in an ice cream maker and freeze for two hours.
To prepare your masterpieces, add one scoop of ice cream and one meringue to the top of each crème brûlée. Serve immediately.
From the delicate candy cap to the nutrient-rich turkey tail mushroom, learning to bake desserts with fungi can broaden your palate as well as increase your nutrient intake. Add these five incredible mushroom desserts to your baking repertoire and wow your friends with the untapped potential of fungi!