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.
There 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.
One 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.
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.
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.