The Mushroom Cookie Master

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Those of you who are my faithful readers and know I write about the vintage Sphere magazine each month, may remember the mushroom cookie recipe from the December 1972 issue I wrote about last Christmas.  The mushroom cookie, officially named “Lithuanian Grybai,” is one of my most requested cookie recipes.  Not only do they taste wonderful, but as you can see they are completely adorable!

Mushroom 5

I couldn’t resist writing about them again because I received a letter from Gillian, one of my readers who turns out to be the master of the mushroom cookie.  She wrote me that every year her family and friends patiently await their gift bags of the cookies.  They know what’s coming.  Deliciousness.  Fun.  Happiness.  They are different from other Christmas cookies, and you can easily see how much love and work go into each and every one of them.  But Gillian loves every minute of it.  She says she has been making the cookies for so long, they are know considered a part of her identity!

Mushroom 6

Wouldn’t you love receiving a bag of these every Christmas?

Mushroom 7

These incredible cookies take some time to make but are worth the effort.  The first step is to bake the caps and stems separately, then attach them together with icing.

Mushroom cookies 5

Mushroom cookies 6

 The caps are iced and sprinkled with poppy seeds, then set aside to dry.  The cookies will keep about 6 weeks in an airtight container or in a freezer about 3 months.  However, I have never known them to last that long.

Mushroom cookies 2

Thank you, Gillian, for sharing your photos and your story.  I am looking forward to hearing how many you made this year.  Your friends and family are so lucky to have their own cookie master.  Wish I lived near you…

Lithuanian Grybai (Mushroom Cookies)
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon peel
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated orange peel
  • 2-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons sour cream
  • Frosting (recipe follows in instructions)
  • Poppy seeds
  1. Heat honey in large saucepan over medium heat until it bubbles around side of pan. Remove from heat; stir in sugars, butter, egg, spices, and peels.
  2. Measure flour, baking soda, and salt into mixing bowl; stir in honey mixture alternately with with sour cream. Turn onto lightly floured board; knead until dough is easy to handle and not sticky, about 5 minutes. (dough should be firm enough to hold impression of finger). Allow dough to rest 20 minutes.
  3. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Divide dough into 4 equal parts. Make mushroom "stems" from one part. Shape into 2 rolls, each 25 inches long and about ⅜-inch in diameter. Cut into 1-inch lengths, reshaping ends of each "stem" if necessary. Place 1-1/2 inches apart on ungreased or parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until firm, about 7 minutes. Cool on wire rack.
  4. Make same amount of "caps" as "stems." Form "caps" by shaping dough into ¾-inch balls. Make indentations about ¼ inch deep on one side of each with round handle of wooden spoon. Place indented side down 1-1/2 inches apart on ungreased or parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake until cookies are light brown on bottoms, about 12 minutes. Cool on wire rack.
  5. Enlarge the indentations in "caps" with a grapefruit knife or small pointed knife. Dip one end of each "stem" into frosting and insert into "caps." Dry mushrooms cap side down.
  6. When dry, dip each mushroom into frosting (see below), completely covering "cap" and underside of "cap," or covering "stem" and underside of "cap." (see photo) Allow excess of frosting to drip into bowl. Sprinkle frosted parts of cookie with poppy seeds. Lay on side on waxed paper to dry. Dry cookies completely before storing in airtight containers. Flavor mellows after 3-4 days. Store at room temperature no longer than 6 weeks, or in freezer no longer than 3 months.
  7. For Frosting: Mix together 2 cups confectioner's sugar and 1 Tablespoon water. Stir in water, 1 teaspoon at a time, beating well after each addition until of dipping consistency.

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8 Responses to The Mushroom Cookie Master

  1. Josh December 4, 2016 at 12:30 pm #

    We grew up making this cookies at Christmas and my mom still has the original magazine with the recipe

    • Debbie December 4, 2016 at 11:44 pm #

      These are very special cookies indeed!

  2. Mary Sue Brown January 11, 2019 at 1:27 pm #

    In 1972 I found this cookie in Sphere Magazine. I have made them every year siince…more and more each year. This year I made 42 dozen. I bag up 6 or12 per bag as gifts for friends and family; I dont forget the mailman, delivery man, favorite store clerks, and medical people we see in December; church staff; my two bookclubs and for entertaining. They are loved by all!
    One thing i changed in the recipee. After the pieces are glued and dried I dip the cap and part of the stem into a thin powdered sugar and water mix that has poppy seed stirred in to it. The thin frosting dries like a crunch shell aand somehow enhances the spice cookie flavor. Less clean up than sprinkling poppy seeds on top.

    • Debbie January 11, 2019 at 11:42 pm #

      Wow, Mary Sue! How great you make so many and give them away. People love those darling cookies and they make such special gifts. Thanks for the tip too!

  3. Laura March 21, 2019 at 6:05 pm #

    Hi -my sister made these for the 1st time a couple weeks ago-they were delicious. I loved the blend of spices used… I’m wondering if you have ever frozen the dough for this recipe and thawed them later on. I’m making these for a bridal shower and am trying to get a head start. If I do freeze the dough, I would thaw and bake them a week later. Do you think this is a good idea?

    • Debbie March 23, 2019 at 12:10 am #

      Hi Laura- All good questions for a great cookie! According to the recipe, the cookies take 3-4 days to mellow and blend flavors, then will keep in tins for up to 6 weeks or frozen up to 3 months. I have never frozen the dough or the prepared cookies because they never last very long! Everyone loves them and they disappear fast. I don’t see any reason why you can’t freeze the dough and make them later, but again I’ve never tried it. If you are making them for a bridal shower, it sounds like you could make them way ahead of time. They are rather time-consuming, so I would say if I was making them ahead of time, I would get them all done and freeze. I say go for whatever will work best for you. Good luck and let us know what you decide. I would love to hear!

  4. Carolyn December 11, 2019 at 8:29 am #

    So delighted to find this blog as I have kept (and moved) my Sphere magazines with me, unable to part with them. Found you by looking up the Grybai recipe and will be trying them this year. Christmas cookies, in general, have become so sweet and bland. It’s time to bring back the wonderful flavors of traditional Christmas cookies! Thank you~

    • Debbie December 13, 2019 at 10:33 am #

      Hi Carolyn! How great that you moved all your Spheres with you over the years. I can’t tell you how many people have written to me saying they wished they had done the same thing. People just never can forget those great recipes. You have inspired my daughter and me to make the mushroom cookies to put around our Yule Log this year. They are so unusual and good, and look so beautiful. Thank you for the reminder!

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