Looking for a morel mushroom dessert recipe? You’ll love maple-candied morel mushrooms. And you can fancy the recipe up a notch by also making spruce needle whipped cream, sweetened and flavored with the leftovers from your candied morel pan.
Morel mushrooms… for dessert?
In case you”re thinking, “Mushroom candy! What the _?” Allow us to explain…
We’re morel mushroom foraging fanatics who try to come up with new and interesting morel mushroom recipes each year during morel season. (In our area, that’s usually March – April; see: How to find morel mushrooms in the Southeast US.)
Morels offer a subtle, delicate, sublime umami flavor that’s kind of hard to describe to someone who’s never had them. Now, the obvious way to eat morels is by making them into standard umami-forward dishes. They don’t require anything fancy: thyme, salt, butter, cream, white wine, risotto, chicken, a bit of parmesan… you can’t go wrong with any combination of those ingredients paired with morels.
Maple syrup-candied morel mushrooms
This year, we wanted to try to make a delicious morel mushroom dessert, and we’re happy to say that we’ve succeeded.
We started by making simple maple syrup-candied morel mushrooms in an antique cast iron skillet with butter, salt, and maple syrup. We then put the morels into our Excalibur dehydrator for 24 hours. (You can also dry them on a cooling rack under a ceiling fan.)
The maple-morel gooey goodness left in the pan was then used to help flavor the maple whipped cream, along with a generous bit of spruce needles. You don’t have to flavor the whipped cream with conifer needles but we highly recommend doing so if you can. (See our guide on how to ID and eat edible conifer trees.) Each candied morel mushroom is then dipped into the whipped cream for a flavor combination that’s out-of-this-world delicious.
Oh, the seasonal flower garnish we use is wisteria flowers (all other parts of the plant are poisonous so just use the flowers). The flowers provide a beautiful pop of purple and taste like spring, but you could also use other seasonal edible flowers like violas, redbuds, etc.
Sigh, yes, of course we have a guide for seasonal edible flowers, too.
Good news: this is a stupid-simple recipe to make. So if you want to shock and dazzle some culinarily adventuresome friends and family by making them a morel mushroom dessert, we’ll show you exactly how to do it below!
Step-by-step: how to make maple-candied morels + forest-flavored whipped cream
Here are extra notes and process photos to help you make this recipe:
1. Rinse and cut your morels in half.
Morels have lots of little folds on their surface that are perfect for collecting small bits of dirt or sand. Chewing on grit can ruin even the best of meals, so we recommend:
- being very careful to keep your morels as clean as possible during harvest and transport, and
- quickly rinsing your morels, stem-side-down, under a faucet before using them. (No, this won’t take away any flavor.)
Morel mushrooms are also hollow, making their insides a nice home for creepy crawlies. Unless you want to eat candied spiders or millipedes, we also recommend slicing each morel in half to make sure there’s nothing inside you don’t want to eat. You may also need to remove a few specks of dirt or debris from the inside as well.
We used various species of morels when making this recipe, but any type will do. However, the larger the better, so the larger blond morels are ideal.
2. Butter the pan and cook morels on both sides until golden brown.
We used a cast iron pan on an induction stovetop set to 300°F (149°C), which is in the medium heat range on a standard stovetop.
Add butter to pan and once it’s sizzling, add your morel halves. Ideally use a pan that’s large enough to accommodate all your morels without crowding them.
If you’re using salted butter, you won’t need to add any salt. If you’re using unsalted butter, go ahead and sprinkle some salt over your morels.
Cook each morel until they’re golden brown on each side. For us, that was about 3 minutes on each side, 6 minutes total.
3. Add maple syrup and cook just long enough.
Once each morel is golden brown on each side, add your maple syrup. Turn the morels and use a spatula to make sure each mushroom gets a generous coating of maple syrup. The syrup will thicken quickly and start to caramelize as the water content diminishes.
Cook for about 2-3 minutes but make sure the maple syrup and mushrooms do not burn as you go. Temporarily remove from heat if you think things are getting too hot.
4. Immediately transfer wet, candied morels to dehydrator or drying rack.
Remove your pan from the heat and immediately transfer your candied morels to a dehydrator or drying rack while the maple syrup is still relatively gooey. You can also scoop a bit into the middle of the morels if you place them exterior-side-down, but be sure to leave plenty for your whipped cream!
We dried our candied morels for 24 hours on 110°F (43°C) on parchment paper in an Excalibur dehydrator. Don’t have a dehydrator? Place your morels on a cooling rack under a ceiling fan and you’ll be fine.
5. Infuse some of the heavy cream with the pan leavings and add spruce/edible conifer needles.
Now to make the best whipped cream you’ve ever tasted using the gooey leavings in your mushroom pan plus some edible conifer needles which add additional woodsy-citrusy-rosemary flavor nuance that pairs beautiful with the other ingredients.
Our favorite edible conifer needle is blue spruce, which is what we used. You could also use needles from pine, fir, Douglas fir, or hemlock (the tree not the deadly carrot family plant, please).
You want to add just a hint of flavor, not overpower things, so we used a heaping tablespoon of spruce needles. Here’s how:
a. Put sticky morel pan over LOW heat on your stovetop and add about 1/4 cup of organic heavy/whipping cream. Here, you’re just trying to get the maple goodies to melt into the cream. Use a spoon to stir and scrape the pan until the maple syrup is incorporated into the cream.
b. Put warm maple-cream in a blender with spruce needles and blend for about a minute. The goal here is to rough up the conifer needles a bit to help them release some flavor.
c. Pour blender ingredients back into your pan over low heat for about 3 more minutes, stirring. Then return to blender one more time and blend for another 30 seconds. Purpose: a bit more flavor extraction.
d. Pour the cream through a strainer to remove all needles and bits.
e. Finally, combine flavored cream with the remaining un-flavored cream and put in your fridge until it’s mealtime. Also, you obviously want your cream to be cold or it won’t whip.
6. Once the morel candy is dried, whip the cream, garnish, and serve!
Ready for dessert? Remove cream from fridge and whip on high speed with electric mixer until it forms peaks and can hold its shape.
Note: Give the cream a taste before you whip it to see if you want to add more maple syrup or not. (We prefer a less sweet whipped cream.) If so, slowly add the maple syrup to taste as you’re whipping it.
If you want extra fluffy whipped cream that holds its shape longer, add a pinch of cream of tartar.
Recipe: Maple-candied morel mushrooms with spruce needle-whipped cream
Maple-candied morel mushrooms with spruce needle-whipped cream
Morel mushrooms for dessert? Try maple-candied morel mushrooms — and serve them with a side of spruce needle-maple whipped cream to blow minds!
For maple-candied morel mushrooms
- 6 fresh morel mushrooms (*scale up the recipe as-needed depending on how many people you're serving + how many morels you want to use)
- 4 tbsp real maple syrup
- 2 tbsp butter
- salt to taste (or no salt if using salted butter)
For spruce needled-maple syrup whipped cream
- 1 cup organic heavy whipping cream
- 1.5 tbsp edible conifer needles (preferably spruce needles)
- maple syrup-morel leavings from pan + (optional) more maple syrup as needed to sweeten whipped cream to taste
- seasonal flowers for garnish
Making candied morels
Flash rinse and cut morels in half to remove any dirt/grit from surface and make sure no insects inside hollow morel bodies.
In cast iron or saucepan over medium heat, add butter. Once sizzling, add morel halves. Cook until golden brown on each side, about 3 minutes per side or 6 minutes total (may vary by pan and stove).
Add maple syrup to pan and sprinkle of salt IF you're using unsalted butter. Use spatula to make sure maple syrup coats all sides of morels and doesn't burn. Cook for about 2-3 minutes.
Remove pan from heat and immediately transfer morels to drying rack or parchment paper on dehydrator shelf. Dry for 24 hours on 110°F (43°C) if using a dehydrator or place morels on a cooling rack under a ceiling fan for 24 hours.
Making spruce needle-maple whipped cream
Put gooey pan over low heat and add 1/4 cup of heavy cream. Stir with spoon until all ingredients incorporated and no more sticky maple syrup left stuck to pan bottom.
Pour warm maple syrup cream into blender with conifer needles and blend for 1 minute. Pour ingredients back into pan over low heat and stir for another 3 minutes. Pour back into blender and blend for another 30 seconds, then strain cream through fine mesh strainer and into glass jar to remove all needles and particles. Place jar in fridge until cold and/or until it's time to serve.
Whip maple cream on high speed until peaks form. If you need more sweet in your whipped cream, slowly add it as you're whipping. For lighter, fluffier whipped cream that holds up longer, add a pinch of cream of tartar.
Plate and garnish with fresh, seasonal edible flowers.
Candied morels: Store candied morels on parchment paper in airtight container. Can be stored at room temp or in fridge. Can store for at least 1-2 weeks.
Whipped cream: Store in glass jar in fridge for up to 24 hours.
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