One year for Christmas, my father decided that he was going to make edible presents for everyone in his department, namely meringue-chocolate mushrooms. With about 50 people each receiving 100 mushrooms, he obviously needed his kids' help. "Pipe the meringue!" he'd shout if we turned on the TV. "Melt some chocolate!" he'd bark if we'd finished piping caps and stems.
We fulfilled our duties in the knick of time, and 25 years later, I still hate meringue.
Mushrooms for dessert, however, stayed with me. No, I'm not talking about the magical kind, which is what you'll mainly get if you Google "chocolate mushroom." I'm talking about a new trend in chocolate bars and bonbons that takes savory desserts to the next level: chocolate that incorporates fungi in various forms.
Mushrooms in your chocolate might sound weird, but they're actually an ideal pairing for chocolate. The earthy, woodsy flavors work with the sweet stuff, creating a depth of flavor that's unparalleled by other ingredients. Don't believe me? Here are four mushroom chocolates that will change your mind.
1. Porcini Dark Milk Chocolate from Chocolate Naïve
Lithuanian bean-to-bar chocolate-maker Domantas Uzpalis says Lithuanians love porcini mushrooms so much that they put them in everything. So for them it's not a surprise to see them in a chocolate bar, but a delight. Try this bar and you'll agree. It's solid, with the mushroom flavor incorporated without any crunch or chewiness, creating a creamy experience deepened by its dark milk nature. (Haven't heard of dark milk chocolate? It's real; read all about it here.)
2. Sea Salt Shiitake White Chocolate Truffle from Lagusta's Luscious
Lagusta Yearwood isn't your average chocolatier. She's a vegan punk rocker, an anarchist, and a feminist who makes products like Furious Vulvas (yes, chocolate vaginas) at her store in upstate New York. So it's no surprise that she uses ingredients like onions and mushrooms in her chocolates. These truffles are made with white chocolate, which is a luscious counterpoint for locally grown shiitake cream, and topped with sea salt.
3. Porcini and Thyme Bar From Eclat Chocolat
Meanwhile, here in the States in West Chester, PA, chocolatier Christopher Curtin (the man behind superstar chef Thomas Keller's new collaboration bar with Williams-Sonoma) combines earthy porcini mushrooms with bright thyme and milk chocolate with white, creating a cacophony of flavors that will keep you going back for more.
4. Candy Cap Truffle from Batch PDX
You've probably been eating mushrooms in sweet things for years without realizing it: Candy cap mushrooms are one of the main ingredients in fake maple syrup because they taste like, well, maple syrup. Recently chocolatiers have used the similarity to their advantage. Take Portland-based Jeremy Karp, who transforms the sticky sweetness into a gorgeous ganache in this truffle. If you didn't know the secret ingredient, you'd never guess.
Have you ever tried mushroom chocolate? Did you love it? Let us know in the comments.