For the meringue mushrooms to decorate her Tiramisu Yule Log, Gina Marie Miraglia Eriquez definitely did not want to go the traditional route. “Do I have to do the boring white mushrooms?” she asked. “How about I add a little cocoa to the meringue and do mushrooms that look like cremini,” she continued, her voice rising with enthusiasm.
“Great idea!” I shot back, because although I’m a fan of meringues of any kind, especially ones made to mimic mushrooms, I’ve often thought they looked too bright a white up against the chocolate brown bark of the log.
When Eriquez turned in her Christmas menu recipes, she was particularly proud of how her mushroom idea turned out. “Just wait till you try them,” she told me, “they’re really cute.”
It’s no surprise, then, that her Yule log with the mushrooms was the first recipe I tested. Everything was going beautifully until it came time to pipe the cocoa-tinted meringue onto the baking sheet. The meringue was super stiff when I began folding in the tiny amount of cocoa Eriquez called for, but when I tried to pipe the “stems,” which are supposed to stand straight up on the baking sheet, the tops kept leaning over.
So I called Eriquez in a bit of a panic. “Gee,” she mused, “that didn’t happen to me.” As we compared notes on every step, I suddenly thought to ask her what brand of cocoa she used. “Hershey’s,” she said. “I always use Hershey’s because it’s the brand you see in every supermarket.”
I’d used Droste, because that’s what I had in my cabinet. Then I asked about the fat content in Hershey’s. Bingo! At .5 grams of fat per tablespoon, Hershey’s has half the fat of Droste, which has 1 gram of fat per tablespoon. That tiny bit of extra fat was deflating my meringue.
A quick perusal of different brands showed that Nestlé, like Hershey’s, comes in at .5 grams of fat per tablespoon, but other, higher-end ones, such as Scharffen Berger and Valrhona are on par with Droste. And which brand has the most fat, coming in at 1.5 grams per tablespoon? Ghirardelli. Who knew there was such a range in fat in cocoa? Just one more reason to read the fine print on labels.