how to make meringue mushrooms and how to plan a soup party

November 10, 2023


I love making meringue mushrooms and believe it or not, they are easier than they look. They may take some time but they are worth it when you hear the ohhs and ahhs. I finally decided to write down my method. I recently served them at a soup party we hosted for 22 people and it was a big success. A soup party is a lovely and cozy way to entertain a large group of friends in fall and winter, and ending the party with the mushrooms was perfect. I'm going to smoosh the how-tos for both the party and the mushrooms into one post. Are you ready?

First let's talk about the party. I've been collecting these "Been There" mug series from Starbucks for several years. When I visit a new state or country and I pass by a Starbucks, I catapult myself inside to buy a mug. My favorites are from Russia, Copenhagen and the pink one from New Orleans. When I had collected over 20 I thought I should have a soup party. They would hold a good serving of soup, be easy to eat from, and it would be so fun to display them. 

Here's how I planned the party.
  • Choose the guest list (my husband's golf buddies and their spouses) and send out invites by email.
  • Choose the soups--one broth based, Italian Wedding Soup, and one cream based, Corn Chowder.
  • Choose the appetizers--several bowls of nuts and cheese toasts that we would pass.
  • Choose the dessert--cut out sugar cookies, brownies, and meringue mushrooms served buffet style.
  • Choose the bar choices.
Next I made a schedule of to-dos.
  1. The week before the party: Make shopping list. Make cheese toasts and freeze. 
  2. Four days before: Inspect glassware, serveware, linens and silver, and wash, iron and polish if needed. Check candle supply and finish seasonal decorations.
  3. Three days before: Shop. 
  4. Two days before: Make cookies, brownies, and meringue mushrooms.
  5. One day before: Set up the bar. Make the chowder and refrigerate. Clean the house. This is normally when I would make the floral arrangements, but I instead relied on my seasonal decorations.
  6. Day of party: Tidy up. Set up serving station. Make second soup.
  7. Two hours before party: Remove soups from the fridge. Fill nut bowls. Get ready.
  8. One half hour before party: Start to gently reheat soups (we'll eat in two hours). Fill ice bucket, light the fire and light candles. Put frozen toasts on baking sheet and preheat oven. Hopefully your husband will pour two glasses of wine and you'll have a moment to relax before the party starts!
  9. Who am I kidding? That never happens.
About 15 minutes into the party I slipped the toasts into the oven. We like a cocktail hour to last a little over an hour; I shoot for about an hour and 15 minutes before I hope to announce dinner. I arranged the toasts on a platter and my darling husband passed them around. We did two passes. We usually act as bartender for the first round of drinks and for the most part leave the second drink up to our friends. We have beer, wine, sparkling water, plain water, gin, vodka, scotch and a few mixes on the bar. We keep it very simple. I put out a little bowl of sliced lemon, my large set of general purpose wine glasses, a few beer glasses and a half dozen old-fashioned size glasses.

When it was time to eat, I invited my guests into the kitchen. I stationed myself at the stove and they came to me with mug in hand and I filled it with their choice. They then went to the toppings department--parmesan cheese for the Italian Wedding soup and a huge bowl of crumbled bacon for the corn chowder. Everyone came back to try the second soup and didn't mind serving themselves. I made sure that my napkins were large, my grandmother's 24" dinner napkins, because not everyone had a seat at a table. Many guests had to sit on the sofas or perch on a stool, but no one seemed to mind. At dessert time I placed the desserts on a sideboard along with little plates.

Recipe Links

  • I loosely followed this recipe for corn chowder, adding chopped poblano peppers for zip, potato flakes to thicken, and a few handfuls of grated sharp cheddar for a flavor boost. I used homemade chicken stock and half and half, no cream. I quadrupled it for 22 servings. 
  • I used this recipe for Italian Wedding Soup. I eliminated the kale and used carrots and green beans instead. The recipe only serves two, but for this kind of party it really made 3 servings which means I had to octuple it!
  • Cheese Toasts
  • This is my sugar cookie recipe.
  • Best brownies!

I have a fun collection of seasonal cookies cutters and a great sugar cookie recipe,
so I try to include sugar cookies at every party. The cutters for the two Indians in a canoe and the
tall Indian were purchased about 45 years ago and were handmade by an artisan.
 They are like old friends to me now.

I kept my decorations to a minimum, adding spots of light with tealights and making sure there was plenty of room on the tables for guests glasses and mugs. I wanted the season to be represented, but not overly done.

The Meringue Mushrooms

I think it's fun for a party to have one show stopper. It can be a pitcher of a fancy drink, or a phenomenal appetizer, or how about meringue mushrooms? They got lots of ohhs and ahhs.  Let's make them!

  • Shopping list: Eggs, cream of tartar, salt, sugar, vanilla, cocoa powder, sweet chocolate. 
  • Make the meringue: Don't attempt unless you have an electric mixer, preferably a stand type mixer. Start with a sparkling clean, dry bowl--egg whites will not whip if there is a contaminant. To the bowl, add the whites of 4 eggs. If any yolk gets into the mix, even a speck, pour it out and use it for an omelet. Wash bowl and start again. With whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on low speed for one minute. Add 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar and 1/4 tsp. salt and beat on low for one more minute. Measure one cup of sugar, and with mixer on medium speed, add 2 tablespoons sugar at a time, beating the mixture 1/2 minute between additions. When all the sugar has been incorporated, add 1 tsp. vanilla and turn it to high speed and beat for 7 minutes. The mixture will be very stiff and shiny.
  • Prepare the cookie sheets: To secure foil to cookie sheets, dip the tip of your finger into the meringue and dot the four corners with a dab of meringue. Place foil on top and press onto meringue dots to secure.
  • Prepare piping bag: Using a piping bag and a tip with a round opening of 1/2 to 3/4 inch. Place open bag into a tall glass and fill pastry bag with meringue. Refill when necessary.
  • On one sheet form the caps. Working with bag upright, twist top closed and put the tip onto the sheet, directly onto the foil, and gently squeeze to form the cap. I made mine about 1 1/2" diameter, but mushrooms come in all shapes and sizes. Gently lift the tip. There will be a little peak. When you have made about 30 caps, dip your middle finger into warm water, shake to remove excess water and pat the tops of the caps and smooth out the peak rewetting finger when needed.
  • On the next sheet make the stems. Working with bag upright, put the tip onto the sheet and gently squeeze and at the same time move the bag up to form an upright stem about 1" tall. Take a small, sharp knife and dip into a glass filled with warm water, then shake off any excess water. Holding the bag in one hand, use your predominant hand to quickly slice the stem at the end of the pastry tip. Now you have an inch long stem. The bottom part of the stem that is on the pan will be the end that you attach to the cap later. Make more stems than caps as some stems will fall during the baking process.
  • Put a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa into a fine sieve. Holding the sieve above the caps and stems, lightly tap a spoon on the sieve's edge to sprinkle cocoa "dirt" over both caps and stems. 
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 225 F for 1 hour, switching racks halfway through. Turn off oven and let the meringues continue to dry in the oven as it cools, one more hour. 
  • Remove the meringues from the foil--they will easily pop off if they are dry.
  • Gently melt 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Dip the flat part of a stem into the melted chocolate and "glue" it to the underside of a cap. Let dry. Do not refrigerate or freeze. They can hold at room temperature for weeks if they like the conditions. I usually store them in paper lined shoe box. Meringues like dry air--humidity is their enemy, but even so I have made these on a rainy day and they were fine.
  • This recipe makes about 30 meringues.
  • If you have excess chocolate you can make chocolate leaves. Cover the back of a washed and dried firm leaf, such as a camellia leaf, with a thick layer of chocolate. Let dry then carefully peel. 

Do you remember my marbleized ornaments?
I passed them out as party favors and they were a big hit.

Good bye and I'll be back soon!

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  1. Love those cups! Chloe

    1. Thank you Chloe. I try not to be a collector these days, but the mugs are so fun to take home as a souvenir. I try to remember that my memories of the trip are enough of a souvenir for me, but sometimes I come home with a mug or yarn!

  2. Those mushrooms are incredible! What a great idea,a soup party!

  3. The mushrooms are fantastic. I love the tip about dipping a finger in whipped egg whites and then securing the aluminum foil to the cookie sheet. You should have your own television show.

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