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…

5.0 from 5 reviews
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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24 Responses to The Mushroom Cookie Master

  1. 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

    • December 4, 2016 at 11:44 pm #

      These are very special cookies indeed!

  2. 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.

    • 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. 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?

    • 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. 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~

    • 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!

  5. September 28, 2020 at 8:40 am #

    I was issued an edict by my family after making these Christmas of 2020. No more peanut butter blossoms Grybai cookies instead.
    Oh so yummy!

    • September 30, 2020 at 9:09 pm #

      I agree, Noreen. They are the best!

  6. December 18, 2020 at 2:07 pm #

    Hi! I made these cookies last year and they were amazing! Although every year I find that my dough is rather crumbly and that makes it hard to form the caps and stems. What do you recommend to fix that?

    • December 22, 2020 at 10:33 pm #

      Hi Anna- I wish I could be in the kitchen with you to see if we could figure out why your dough is crumbly as I have never had that problem. All I can think of offhand is the flour, as too much could make the dough dry. Did you make some this year yet? How did they turn out?

      • December 22, 2020 at 10:35 pm #

        Yes I did! This was my second year making them and they came out a lot better. I must have added a little less than a handful of water and kneaded the dough for quite a bit, and then in about 5 or 10 minutes it was all good to go!

        • December 22, 2020 at 10:49 pm #

          Yay! That’s great Anna! Thanks for writig.

  7. December 27, 2020 at 7:13 am #

    Being a charter subscriber to Sphere in 1972; I made the Lithuanian Grybai, the Austrian Peaches, Swedish Pepparkakor and Greek Kourabiedes that year and every year since. I like to shape the stems for the Grybai by narrowing the top and squishing the bottom. I also mix the glaze, add the poppy seeds and heat it a little to thin it and made it easier to dip and quicker to dry.

    • December 30, 2020 at 6:36 am #

      Great tips, Beverly! All that you mentioned are so delicious. I’ve made them all too, and there is nothing like them! So festive and special.

  8. March 22, 2021 at 8:15 pm #

    How many mushrooms does this recipe make? My fiancé is Lithuanian. I’d like to make these for our upcoming wedding.
    Thank you.

    • March 23, 2021 at 1:32 am #

      Hi Tina- The recipe says it makes about 4 dozen. What a fun idea for your wedding!

  9. December 7, 2022 at 5:28 pm #

    i’m so pleasantly surprised to find this recipe. my mom started making these when i was a baby for my dads coworkers and staff in the early 1970’s she would put them in a clay pot with green and red tissue paper. i took over the tradition in my early 20’s and made them for my dad every year until he passed away in 2011. i still make them every year and now my husband and children are huge fans and anxiously await me making them. my dad was lithuanian and my son just did 23 and me and he was thrilled to learn he is 30 % lithuanian so now he is even more excited to make them this year. we lost our special needs son last year and i could not bring myself to make them but this year i will. thank you for the lovely story and post. and while i do not know you baking is joy and love and this made my day – sounds strange but visit our website to learn about our mission to spread joy in our sins honor – and i will do this in part with these cookies this year … http://www.sweetjaxjoy.vim

    • December 7, 2022 at 9:16 pm #

      Adrienne, I am so honored that you wrote and shared your story of the cookies and your incredible son, Jackson. His story brought tears to my eyes. What a lucky son he was to have your family, and your family to have him. I’m so sorry he has gone too soon. I hope everyone reading this will go check out sweetjaxjoy. God bless you and your family. Thank you for sharing Jackson’s story. You are an amazing mom.

  10. December 22, 2022 at 3:18 pm #

    I have the identical recipe from Sphere magazine. I always make a double batch when making them. I go for 8 dozen at a time. I made 16 dozen this year. So good.

    • December 22, 2022 at 8:48 pm #

      Linda- 16 dozen?! Wow! You must have made a lot of people happy! I bet you broke the record on most made. The Sphere recipe is incredible. Thanks for writing- I’m so impressed!

  11. November 23, 2023 at 6:40 am #

    I love making these cookies, I’ve made them for the past 2 years and given them out to friends at Christmas. I want to figure out how to make the stems more cylindrical; they always come out flat on the baking side. Any ideas?

    • November 23, 2023 at 10:57 pm #

      Hi Kiwi- I love those cookies too. I haven’t made them in awhile but I do remember that after cutting the stems, I would roll them again to form a better shape and then refrigerate until chilled and bake immediately so the dough doesn’t get soft. It does help somewhat. Anyone else who makes these please chime in if you have a suggestion!

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