Sandy, buttery cookies become an addictive conversation piece with the addition of ground candy cap mushrooms and flaky sea salt. When dried, candy caps taste like an earthy version of maple syrup, and add delicious flavor to many baked goods.
For the classic candy cap cookies, the dried caps are rehydrated, then chopped finely and added to a soft dough. I wanted to try dispersing the candy cap flavor throughout the cookie, so I ground the shrooms in a coffee grinder, like you would fresh spices. I made a buttery sable dough, tweaked from my favorite Fran Gage recipe (hers are cardamom), and added some chopped, toasted pecans to play up the maple flavor and add a bit of texture. The cookies got rolled into logs, chilled and sliced. A flurry of flaky Malden salt topped the discs and they baked into crumbly, sandy coins of heaven.
Some shortbread cookies call for the addition of cornstarch, rice flour or powdered sugar, as their lack of gluten contributes a desirable sandy quality. I was surprised and pleased to find that the powdered caps had the same effect.
This recipe doubles easily. Extra dough logs store well in the fridge for a week or so, in the freezer for several months. The baked cookies keep for a week or more, stored in an airtight container. Go crazy and serve them with Candy Cap Creme Caramels. Candy caps can be ordered from here.
Makes about 2 dozen 1 1/2 inch cookies
2 teaspoons powdered candy caps (about 1/4 cup, finely ground in coffee grinder)
4 ounces (1/2 cup, 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened but cool
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup toasted pecans, chopped
flaky sea salt, such as Malden, for topping the cookies
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the candy cap powder, butter, sugar and salt until well combined and slightly lightened, about 2 minutes. (This dough gets creamed less than usual for cookies and cakes; it should be fairly dense and cool to make it easier to shape into logs.) Add the flour and pecans, mix on low until just combined. Fold the dough a few times by hand to make sure it is thoroughly combined.
Roll the dough into a log, about 12″ long and 1″ in diameter. (For a perfectly round log, roll in a sheet of parchment paper, using a bench scraper or ruler to squeeze the parchment tightly around the dough. See photo, above.) If not using parchment, wrap the log in plastic or wax paper. Chill until firm, 1 hour, or up to several days. (You can also freeze the logs. Thaw in the fridge before proceeding.)
Preheat the oven to 350º. Let the log stand at room temperature for 10 or 15 minutes. Unwrap, and slice the log into 1/4 – 1/2″ coins. (Rotate the log every few slices to prevent it from flattening on one side.) Arrange the cookies, one to two inches apart, on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, and sprinkle each coin with several flecks of salt.
Bake the coins until they are nicely golden all over, about 20-30 minutes, rotating once or twice. Underbaked cookies will be bland and pasty, so let these go a bit longer than you think. They will crisp up as they cool.
The cookies store very well in an airtight container for up to a week.