Candy Cap Mushroom Sponge Candy

by Kelly on November 13, 2011

I’m always up for a cooking contest, especially if it challenges me to work with an ingredient that is unfamiliar to me. So I was very excited when Marx Foods announced their The Sweeter Side of Mushrooms: A Candy Cap Recipe Contest.


As participants, we were tasked with creating a recipe with these unique mushrooms.

What makes them so special? They have an aroma that is more sweet – like a deep, earthy maple syrup to be exact – than traditional mushrooms. Because of that, they are known to make an appearance in sweet dishes like creme brulée and cupcakes.

Given that candy was in the name of these mushrooms, I thought it would be fun to literally make them in to candy.  I settled on sponge candy Since it has as caramel-esque flavor I thought would pair well with the maple notes in the mushrooms.  It’s also known as honeycomb candy and sponge toffee.  But most notably for me, it’s a key ingredient in New Zealand’s Hokey Pokey ice cream, which I enjoyed when visiting there as 13-year-old.

I began by turning my dried Candy Cap mushrooms into fine powder.

Candy Cap Mushroom Sponge CandyThere are many way of adding their flavor and aroma to dishes, from making stocks to infusing milk to creating a mushroom syrup, but turning the mushrooms into powder adds the strongest flavor.   I used two teaspoons for this recipe which doesn’t seem like much, but easily carries their exceptional flavor.

I then made the candy itself by cooking together granulated sugar, dark corn syrup and a little white wine vinegar until it reached 300 degrees F on my candy thermometer.  I then added the mushroom powder along with a little bit of cinnamon (to enhance the earthiness of the mushrooms and add warmth) and baking soda.  The baking soda is the magic ingredient of sorts, making the candy froth up and creating little pockets of air that give it the airy candy comb texture once it cools.

Candy Cap Mushroom Sponge Candy-3One taste of this transported me back to New Zealand, but with a more inspired twist.  The maple flavors were definitely present as was an earthiness that made the candy taste subtly like bacon.  Overall, the mushrooms gave the candy so much depth of flavor and balanced out the straight sweetness.

Candy Cap Mushroom Sponge Candy-2

Thanks again to Marx Foods for the opportunity to play and don’t forget to check out their blog to see what other competitors came up with as well as to vote for your favorite.

Candy Cap Mushroom Sponge Candy
Adapted from Epicurious
Makes about 6 cups


-1 tablespoon baking soda
-2 teaspoons ground candy cap mushrooms
-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1 cup granulated sugar
-1 cup dark corn syrup
-1 tablespoon white wine vinegar


Sift together the baking soda, powdered mushrooms, and cinnamon. Set aside.

Line 9-inch square cake pan with 2-inch-high sides with foil, extending foil over sides. Generously coat foil with melted butter or cooking spray. Combine sugar, corn syrup and vinegar in heavy large deep saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Continue cooking without stirring until clip-on candy thermometer registers 300 degrees F, swirling pan occasionally. Remove from heat. Immediately add baking soda mixtureand stir until well combined (mixture will foam vigorously). Immediately pour mixture into prepared pan. Cool completely.
Using foil as aid, lift, candy from pan; fold down foil sides. Cut or break candy into large pieces. Serve for up to one week at room temperature.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Renee {Eat.Live.Blog} November 13, 2011 at 10:02 pm

How do you find out about all of these amazing contests? Honeycomb is one of my VERY favorite treats, I cant believe it is this easy to make! Im gonna have to make this…not sure if the mushroom will make it in though 🙂


Cara November 13, 2011 at 10:02 pm

wow – I’ve never heard of this – candy cap mushrooms or sponge candy! Thanks for showing me something so new and unique 🙂


Shannon November 14, 2011 at 1:16 am

Accidentally vegan! WOOOOP! Oh my, you do not know my love for honeycomb or sponge candy! Try dipping some in chocolate for an amazing time. I totally need to get my paws on some candy cap mushrooms. This looks like a super fun recipe.


Kelly November 14, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Renee – Generally I find them by keeping my eyes out (I read the Marx Foods blog regularly), but I also belong to a website that aggregates all the cooking contests (Cooking Contest Central). It does cost money, but I find it is worth it.

Cara – You are very welcome!

Shannon – You should definitely make some. With or without the mushrooms it is delicious and I am thinking of making a vanilla bean-infused batch next for less adventurous friends.


shannon November 17, 2011 at 12:46 pm

totally crazy, but i love it! you got my vote 😉 and i don’t know that i’ve ever tried sponge candy…


Jack Skrceny January 30, 2013 at 11:48 am

Did anyone else have trouble with this recipe ? I followed it to the ” T ” and it came out hard like Peanut Brittle and tasted like Baking Soda. When I poured it out it was nice & fluffy, but by the time it cooled it looked like peanut Brittle.


Kelly January 30, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Hi Jack – I am so sorry to hear that this recipe didn’t work out for you. I’ve tested this recipe a few times and always got good results but will test it again to make sure there aren’t any measurements that were off. It certainly shouldn’t have come out hard like peanut brittle. It should be crunchy and airy but not hard and the baking soda flavor certainly shouldn’t be prominent. So I’m so sorry about that! Not being in your kitchen I’m not entirely sure what went wrong. I also consulted the original recipe from Epicurious that I based this off of and unfortunately couldn’t find any troubleshooting for that issue. The way you describe it, it almost sounds like it deflated. In the meantime, I did want to share an article I consulted when I was making my batch and found it very helpful: Will test again and update here if I find a solution but again, I’m very sorry it worked out like that.


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