Creativity and beauty are important to me. I invest time into things that quite a few people would think frivolous. I need to create. I enjoy things that are aesthetically pleasing. It's how I was made, and I can't help but constantly think of new ideas.
Thankfully, my family appreciates my efforts. (Well, I'm not so sure about my mother; she might just find them to be frivolous!) My husband and my children don't find my endeavors to be too far out in left field, and encourage me daily. They feel loved by the extra effort, and I get to create, which makes me happy.
We have a surplus of eggs right now, and I was trying to think of new ways to use some of them up. I wanted to make meringues way back in the spring, and the weather never cooperated when I had the time. (You must have dry weather to make meringues!) Summer was too busy, and that brings us to autumn. Oh, but plain old meringues would never do. They had to be adorable meringues.
I mixed up the recipe:
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
3/4 cup. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Place egg whites in a grease-free bowl. Add cream of tartar, and mix on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Add sugar in, one tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition until all sugar in incorporated, and stiff peaks form. Add in vanilla, beat 30 seconds longer. Fill a pastry bag fitted with large round tip. Pipe meringues onto a parchment covered cookie sheet, and bake for 90 minutes at 200 F. Remove cookie sheets to wire rack, and cool completely. Store meringues in an airtight container.
For mushrooms, hold pastry bag perpendicular to the cookie sheet, and pipe round circle, about 1- 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Release pressure, and drag tip off the side of the circle rather than straight up so as not to leave a peak. For the stems, hold the pastry bag perpendicular to the baking sheet, and pipe straight up, about 1 inch. Release pressure, and lift.
After the meringues were baked and cooled, I melted 1/3 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips. On the bottom of each mushroom cap, make an indentation with the end of an artist's brush where you'd like to attach the stem.
Place a small amount of melted chocolate onto the bottom of the mushroom cap. Attach the stem.
While holding the stem in place, feather the chocolate around the stem to the outside edge of the mushroom cap, creating "spores".
Place mushrooms on a baking sheet, and allow to dry.
Dust the mushrooms with cocoa powder, and enjoy.
No special occasion this time, but I think I'll be embellishing a birthday cake with some of these next month.