Butternut Squash and Candy Cap Mushroom Brûlée

Incorporating these two seasonal ingredients into a crème brûlée makes perfect food pairing sense! Not to mention a sophisticated Thanksgiving dessert. Extracting the famous candy caps’ flavor is done by infusing the maple flavored mushrooms in cream. The same recipe method can also be used to flavor seasonal ice creams or custard bases for pie fillings. The natural maple-flavored essence of candy caps paired with sweet butternut squash will be most harmonist and unusual food pairing on your holiday dessert table this year! 

You’ll Need:

1 butternut squash, cut horizontally and seeds removed

3 cups heavy cream

1/2 ounce Dried Candy Cap Mushrooms

6 large egg yolks

2/3 cup candy cap sugar (see recipe below) plus ½ to 1 cup more for caramelizing 

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Pinch kosher salt

Here’s How: 

Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F Degrees.

Place the butternut squash and ½ cup water in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish — cover and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until soft and tender.

Remove from the oven, and place the squash in a fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl and drain for at least 30 minutes to release any excess moisture, press gently to extract all the liquid. Reserving the liquid for another use. After removing any excess liquid, place the squash scoop the flesh in the bowl of your food processor and purée until smooth. Discard the skin.

Reserve 1 cup of purée and save any remaining squash meat for another recipe.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F Degrees. Arrange eight 6-ounce crème brûlée dishes or ramakins in a large roasting pan. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a simmer while you finish making the custard.

To Make the Custard:

Place the cream and candy cap mushrooms in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring just to a boil, then turn off heat and allow to rest for about 30 – 60 minutes to infuse flavors.

Strain the infused cream through a fine-mesh strainer into a small saucepan, pressing on the mushrooms to extract all of the flavor.

In the bowl of your standing mixer whisk the yolks, 2/3 cup of the candy cap sugar, vanilla, and salt.

Reheat the strained cream to a gentle boil, then slowly drizzle the hot cream stream into the egg whisking mixture while on low to medium speed paying special attention to carefully introduce the hot cream to the egg mixture a-little-at-a-time until the egg mixture is almost the same temperature as the cream–this technique is called tempering and will prevent the eggs from scrambling.

Once you have tempered the cream into the egg mixture, add the squash purée.

Strain again through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium-size bowl. For an even creamier texture, strain a few times, or through a cheesecloth lined strainer.

Divide the mixture among the ramekins in the roasting pan. place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and pour enough of the simmering water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins allowing them to bake in the water bath for about 20-25 minutes, or until just set. The centers may still appear to be slightly jiggly- that is a perfect indicator it is time to remove from the oven. With tongs and a dishtowl, carefully remove the crème brûlées dishes from the water bath and place on wire racks to cool to room temperature.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Makes approximatly 6-8 servings 

Before Serving: 

Sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of Candy Cap Sugar evenly on top of cold Crème Brûlée. Brown the tops using a blowtorch or by placing the ramekins under the broiler until the sugar is melted and bubbling. Wait 1 to 2 minutes for the sugar crust to cool and set up before serving.

Success Tips :

The drier the butternut squash purée, the better. Make sure to cook it until it is very tender, then give it the full time to release all of the excess liquid and steam. You can prepeare a couple of days ahead of time and refrigerate the purée until you are ready to use.

Substitutions and Variations:

You can use regular or vanilla-infused sugar in place of the candy cap sugar. Other winter squash varieties, such as acorn or kabocha squash, can be substituted for the butternut. Just be sure to precook the squash until very tender and to purée until smooth. Add a little spice, try a pinch of cardamom or allspice. Too much, however, will overpower the delicate flavor of the candy cap mushrooms.

Infused Candy Cap Sugar:

Infused sugar is one of the easiest things you can make, and as a bonus, it’s delicious, very pretty, and incredibly versatile. An infused sugar can enhance everything from baked goods to cocktails, and you can let your imagination run wild dreaming up a variety of flavor combinations and different ways to use them.

Plan accordingly – it can take up to a week or two to be fully infused after you make the sugar, but it will keep well for up to 3 months in dry storagae.

To make infused sugars, you just start with sugar—cane, beet or coconut sugar! Add the desired herb or spice to the sugar—the drier it is, the less the sugar will clump.

Infused Candy Cap Sugar 

You’ll Need: 

1 cup dried Candy Caps 

2 cups granulated sugar

Here’s How:

In the bowl of your food processor blitz the dry candy caps to a powder. If any moisture is exposed due to the friction, remove the mushrrom powder from bowl onto a parchment lined baking sheet and dry at room temperature. 

Once dry, combine with the sugar, stir well and store air-tight for a minumin of one week for infusion to take place.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups


Published by Chef Gigi Gaggero, Host of Silicon Valley's LIVE Food Talk Radio on KSCU 103.3 FM

Professional Chef, Two Time Award-Winning Book Author, Former Academic Director from Le Cordon Bleu, and Host of Silicon Valley's LIVE Food Talk Radio on KSCU 103.3 FM

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