I debated long and hard about whether to share this recipe.
It's a conversation piece for sure.
(And...it's potentially risky business in an industry so entrenched in tradition.)
More than anything, this candy cap cream cheese frosting is surprisingly delicious, which in my book, is the best kind of delicious.
When I think about what excites me most about my culinary journey, whether it's reading a new cookbook, visiting a gourmet shop or experiencing a new bakery, I always come back to the tastemakers. That is, the innovative, envelope-pushing ingredients, chefs and artisans who make food as much about flavor, as it is about surprise, delight and discovery.
So, here you go: one of my favorite culinary discoveries since moving to California that I sincerely hope you'll love, too...
I first experienced Candy Caps over a decade ago during the San Francisco Ferry Building's Fungus Festival, during which each of the vendors offered pairings from Far West Fungi (the building's mushroom shop) and something from their store.
There were plenty of safe crowd pleasers such as mushroom quesadillas, truffled popcorn and the like, but as a recent culinary school graduate and self-proclaimed "foodie," it was the Candy Caps that blew my mind (and still do).
That revelatory night eleven years ago, I tasted them two ways: one was a buttery, maple-scented Candy Cap shortbread cookie from Miette and the other was a creamy, tangy Candy Cap-flecked cheesecake from Far West Fungi.
And since then, I've tried them in creme brulee at fancy restaurants and churned into ice cream at Humphry Slocombe, and I've done my fair share of recipe testing, too...
The trick I've found to using candy caps in baking and pastry is to infuse them into creamy, buttery flavors to complement the sweet, maple notes.
Now for the main event, Candy Cap Cream Cheese Frosting (my earthy little secret to the seasonal Honeycrisp Apple Cake I just posted and a great substitution for classic cream cheese frosting in any of your fall baking).
BTW, I recommend prepping this recipe a day or two before you bake and assemble the cake to give the flavors time to infuse.
CANDY CAP CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
Yields - 34 ounces (enough to fill two 3-layer, 8" cakes)
- 1 stick soft, unsalted organic butter left at room temperature overnight
- 12 oz (1.5 blocks) organic cream cheese
- 4.5 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
- .5 grams dried Candy Cap mushrooms (or about 3-4 dried caps), ground as finely as possible*
- 1-2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- Using an electric mixer, with a whisk attachment, add softened butter and whisk on medium speed until smooth and creamy.
- On medium speed, add chilled cream cheese, a few ounces at a time, until combined with butter.
- Turn speed to low and add sifted confectioner's sugar, one cup at a time, until all the sugar is incorporated.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons vanilla to reach desired consistency.
- Finally, add powdered candy caps and mix just until flecks are evenly distributed.
RECIPE RESOURCES FOR HOME BAKERS
*Baker's Note - Candy Caps are highly aromatic and will leave your pantry and entire kitchen redolent of maple for weeks and months if not tightly sealed. I don't think it's a terrible problem during the holidays, but something to be aware of as spring rolls around;)
Next up to pull my fall apple cake together: my go-to recipe for salted caramel sauce...