candy cap mushroom blondies

Happy Friday! If you’ve never heard of candy cap mushrooms, they are a mushroom found in the wild along the US West coast and in Maine and are unique in that they give off a scent and flavor similar to maple syrup, and thus are used in both sweet and savory recipes. I bought them already dried and bagged from Oregon and they were a cinch to work with.

After making these a couple of times, I finally feel like these have the qualities I look for in a blondie. I added a little corn syrup, which was a tip I saw on Cooks Illustrated. Corn syrup helps keep these blondies moist and slightly chewy. After all, you’re not trying to make a cake, right? Browning the butter beforehand is also an option that I think should always be done for blondie recipes, but I’m a little biased. I have a tendency to want to put brown butter in everything. Lately I’ve been exploring how to add half brown butter and half regular butter as a way to make it not so overpowering that it steals the show. I also have been experimenting with cooling brown butter back into a solid state to see if that makes a difference. I think it does.

Also, if you were to serve these without the candied mushroom on top of each blondie, most people will not be able to guess that mushrooms are in it! It’s a great conversation starter! Most people believe that there is maple syrup in the recipe, as there is a flavor component within candy cap mushrooms that’s similar to maple syrup. It’s not sweet by itself, but when combined with something sweet, it really tastes just like maple syrup! When I ate a rehydrated mushroom by itself, it definitely tasted more like a mushroom, but it didn’t taste like maple syrup to me at all until I tried one dredged in sugar.

I added both a powdered form of the dried mushrooms, which I added to the sugars, and also some rehydrated but chopped up mushrooms that I also dredged in sugar, but added it in right before baking. Ben took these to his work, and while everybody could taste that there was something sweet and maple syrup-ish, they couldn’t pinpoint what the brown flecks were. They sort of look like flecks of chocolate chips, but are maple syrup-flavored and have a soft mouthfeel. I imagine that if you added mushroom pieces that are not chopped up, people might then notice that they are mushrooms, but they really don’t have a mushroom flavor at all as long as you add sweetness to them.

If you like to forage for edible mushrooms in the wild, you can find candy cap mushrooms all along the US west coast states and in Maine; you can also just order them from online. I lucked out when we went to Oregon a few weeks ago and was able to get not only a couple of small bags of dried candy cap mushrooms, but a bag of dried lobster mushrooms, which I hope to post about real soon! Anyways, I hope you enjoy!

candy cap blondies (uses one 8″ square pan)

ingredients

112 grams (4 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature

60 grams (about 2 ounces) dried candy cap mushrooms, divided

100 grams (1/2 cup) granulated sugar

100 grams (1/2 cup) dark brown sugar

1/4 cup light or dark corn syrup

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

190 grams (1 and 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

scant 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

2 Tablespoons malted milk powder (optional)

method

First brown the butter. Place in a saucepan over medium heat for several minutes until the milk solids brown and start to form on the bottom. Promptly remove from heat and scrape all contents into a bowl. Set in a refrigerator to cool until needed. If you prefer not to brown the butter, use cold but softened unsalted butter.

Divide the 60 grams, about 2 ounces, of candy cap mushrooms into two groups that are equal in weight: Larger and whole mushrooms and larger pieces in one group, and smaller pieces and particles in the second group.

Rehydrate the first group of larger mushrooms by placing them in a bowl with lukewarm water. Gently rub them to loosen any grit or dirt, if any, letting it sink to the bottom. Let sit in the warm water for about 10 minutes. Lift out of the water, being careful not to disturb any grit at the bottom of the bowl. Gently blot them dry with a clean cloth or paper towel to get rid of excess water. You will be dredging them in sugar, so you want them to be moist enough for the sugar to stick to them, but not for them to be dripping wet.

In another bowl add about 1/2 cup of sugar and dredge the mushrooms in the sugar, then transfer to a cutting board. Pick out about a dozen or so of the best looking mushrooms from the group to use as garnishes over the blondies and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet to dry. Dry them in a warm (<200 degrees F.) oven for about 2 hours until the sugar is crystallized and the mushrooms are crunchy. Set aside.

For the rest of the larger mushrooms and mushroom pieces dredged with sugar on the cutting board, simply chop them up so that there are no pieces larger than peas. Set aside.

For the other group of smaller mushrooms and broken pieces, place in a spice grinder to pulverize them into a dust or powder. If you don’t have a spice grinder, you may use a food processor to turn them into a powder, it just might take longer, or you may need to use a fine sieve to sift the larger pieces out to get a consistent powder. You may have about 2 Tablespoons of powder. Measure out a Tablespoon of finely ground powder for this recipe and reserve the rest for other uses. Set aside. (You can also just add more of the powder into this blondie recipe, but I wouldn’t add more than a teaspoon more. A little goes a long way.)

Heat oven to 350 degrees F., and line an 8”x 8” square pan with 2″ sides, with parchment paper that overhangs on two opposite sides. Set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and milk powder, if using, into a bowl and stir with a whisk several times. Set aside.

Take the brown butter out of the refrigerator. If very cold, let it sit until warmer, or zap it in a microwave for 10 seconds to soften just a little, but don’t heat up so that it’s warm, keep it somewhat colder than room temperature. 

Using an electric hand held mixer with beaters, cream the cooled brown butter with both sugars and add the powdered candy cap mushrooms to it and blend until fluffy and mixed in. Blend on low while adding the corn syrup, egg, and vanilla extract into the batter, just until all are mixed in and being careful not to overmix or overbeat.

Switch to using a rubber spatula and fold in the flour mixture until all the dry ingredients are moistened and added in.

Add the chopped mushrooms that have been dredged in sugar to the batter and fold in with a rubber spatula or large spoon.

Scrape blondie batter and press into the prepared pan, level the top with an offset spatula, or using the back of a spoon, and bake for about 28-30 minutes at 350 degrees F. until browned on top and edges and when it is no longer jiggly in the middle. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing and topping each slice or square with a dried candied mushroom.

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