I have a confession to make, everyone: I am not a mushroom fan. Although I’m starting to come around, I still take my pizza sans shrooms and try to avoid the occasional portobello burger that comes my way. I can’t really pinpoint when I started to dislike them, but it might have something to do with those less than appetizing cans of cream of mushroom soup that would find their way all too frequently to my childhood dinner table. Whatever the case may be I’m sure you can imagine that developing this recipe was pretty challenging given my fungi aversion. Truly, the thing that got me through it was the fact I’d been sitting on dried candy cap mushrooms for the better part of a year!
Indeed, last year around the same time as my ill fated attempt at Koopa Buns (<-they’re better now!) I had ordered a couple ounces of candy caps in preparation for this recipe. Unfortunately, I never got around to using them. The motivation returned when I got the opportunity to host the Fandom Foodies #MarioMonth link-up so here we are. (Speaking of which, if you’d like to check out a sweeter variation of this recipe, head over to Pretty Cake Machine and check out her Shroom Cake post!)
So what is a candy cap anyway? Well, according to most of the internet, they are THE dessert mushrooms and it’s easy to see why, or rather smell why. They smell exactly like maple syrup! And I don’t mean just slightly, these little guys are potent! If not kept in an airtight container they’re liable to make the whole room smell like a pancake factory (yes this happened, yes it was awesome.) These mushrooms come dried and are usually used as a powder or used to infuse cooking liquids in savory and sweet preparations. If you’d like to give this recipe a try you can order candy caps from a number of online purveyors. I got mine from www.lifegourmetshop.com.
So I had candy caps, but what to do about building a cake around it? In Paper Mario, this recipe is achieved by giving the resident chef a mushroom and cake mix so I thought why not follow suit and use some boxed cake mix myself haha. It’s been a while since I’ve baked from a box, but one of my friends on twitter (thanks, Derek!) suggested Duncan Hines brand and it was definitely the way to go. I decided to doctor it up with a little porcini and cocoa powder for some depth of flavor and I think it worked really well.
The frosting was where the candy caps were really going to shine. I wanted to get the most out of that maple flavor so I threw in some good ol’ fashioned maple syrup as well to really get the point across. In addition to that, the in-game sprite shows some dark spots in the frosting layer that I could only assume were whole mushrooms. Unfortunately, rehydrated candy caps have a very bitter flavor as I found out so I knew I had to use something else.
It just so happens at my restaurant they do a mushroom pickup with sherry vinegar and soy sauce that I actually really like. I decided if I had to eat an actual mushroom in this whole recipe, it was going to be one cooked like that. After a few tests, maitake mushrooms seemed to be the best suited for the job as they don’t have a particularly strong flavor of their own and are relatively soft . So with all the pieces in place I set forth on one of my bravest recipes yet. Check it out below and enjoy the rest of #MarioMonth!
+ Chocolate Mushroom Cake +
makes one 8″ cake or two 6″ cakes
|Cake Mix (Duncan Hines recommended)||1 box|
|Cocoa Powder||1 TBSP|
|Porcini Powder||2 TBSP|
|Vegtable Oil||1/3 cup|
- 2x 6″ cake pans or 2x 8″ cake pans
- Electric Mixer
- Parchment paper and pan spray
- Pencil and scissors
1) Preheat the oven to 350F
2) We’re basically going to follow the directions on the back of the cake mix box for this portion of the recipe. Add everything to the the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and combine on low speed until the flour is moistened. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes.
3) In the mean time, take a pencil and trace the bottoms of your cake pans. Use a pair of scissors to cut out the circles and place them inside the sprayed cake pans. Remember to spray the tops of the parchment paper a little as well.
4) Once the batter is fully combined, measure about half into each of your 6″ or 8″ pans and bake for 20-23 minutes or until the cake springs back when pressed. While they’re in the oven, we can prepare the buttercream below.
+ Maple Mushroom Buttercream +
finally get to use those candy caps!
|Butter (room temp)||2 sticks (1 cup)|
|Powdered Sugar||3/4 cup|
|Maple Syrup||1 cup|
|Candy Cap Powder||3 TBSP|
- Electric Mixer
- Food processor or spice grinder
- Rubber spatula
1) The first thing we need to do is take our dried candy cap mushrooms and buzz them up. This can be done in a food processor or a spice grinder if you happen to own one. The mushrooms are very brittle so they turn into a powder fairly quickly.
2) Now, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment add the two sticks of room temperature (soft) butter and powdered sugar. Whip these two together on low speed until no unmixed sugar remains and then increase the speed to high for about 3 minutes or until light and fluffy. You’ll want to scrape down the sides of the bowl every minute or so to make sure the butter is thoroughly incorporated.
3) After 3 minutes of whipping on high, reduce to speed to medium and add the maple syrup, vanilla, salt, and candy cap powder we made. I’d recommend drizzling in the maple syrup a little at a time so it doesn’t splash out of the bowl. Make sure everything’s fully mixed and then set the bowl aside until ready to frost.
+ Sweet and Salty Sautéed Mushrooms +
if you’re going for the 100% completion bonus, add these in for a flavorful punch!
|Maitake (and/or Beach) Mushrooms||1 pint|
|Vegetable Oil||2 TBSP|
|Sherry Vinegar||1 TBSP|
|Soy Sauce||1 tsp|
- Sharp knife and cutting board
- Small mixing bowl
- Medium frying pan
- Rubber spatula
For the final cake I used maitake mushrooms for the buttercream layer and beach mushrooms to garnish on top. The recipe is the same for both types, but the ratio I’ve written above is only for 1 pint of mushroom. If you want to use both kinds like I did, simply preform the recipe twice.
1) Start by cutting the mushrooms off of the dense mass at their base. Chop them into relatively small pieces as shown above and place them in a small mixing bowl along with the sherry vinegar and soy sauce.
2) Set your frying pan over medium heat and add in the vegetable oil. Pour in the marinated mushrooms and cook them until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the sugar and salt to taste and continue to cook until the sugar begins to caramelize and darken in color.
3) Deglaze by pouring in a bit of water into the pan and then remove it from the heat. This will allow the mushrooms to soak up the flavorful liquid as they sit.
+ Assembling the Shroom Cake +
let’s *cap* this thing off!
|Mushroom Cake||2x 8″ or 2x 6″ rounds|
|Maple Buttercream||as needed|
|Sautéed Mushrooms||as needed|
|Sherry Vinegar||2 tsp|
- Sharp knife and cutting board
- Small sauce pot
- Pastry brush
- Offset spatula
1) Because it doesn’t have very much frosting, we’re going to want to make a quick simple syrup in order to keep the cake moist. Add the sherry vinegar, sugar, and water to a small sauce pot over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
2) If you’re making an 8″ cake, each of your layers simply need the domed top to be trimmed off. If you’re making 6″ cakes like in the photos, each of the cakes will need to be sliced in half.
3) Place the bottom and top layers of the cake on bases or large plates cut-side up. Brush the sherry simple syrup over the top of them until completely soaked. Now, to just the bottom layer, add a few large spoonfuls of the maple buttercream to the middle of the cake and use the spatula to smooth it out flat. At this point you can sprinkle the sautéed mushrooms (I used the maitakes for this) over top and press them gently into the buttercream. Then add a bit more of the buttercream to cover the mushrooms.
4) Gently situate the top layer of the cake (simple syrup-side down) on top of the buttercream. Once again, use the pastry brush to soak the top of the cake with the sherry simple syrup. Decorate the cake with the leftover buttercream and beach mushrooms if you like!
Hey! Thanks for reading all the the way to the end! You’re awesome :D! If you haven’t already and are looking for more nerdy food stuff, consider following me on Twitter, Facebook, tumblr and Instagram. I post a lot of work in progress pictures for the blog as well as some stuff from my real job as a pastry chef. If that sounds like something you’d be into, please check out those links above! Anyway, take care everyone and I’ll see you soon with an all-new recipe!