Notes: Jeff Hanley of Los Gatos makes two varieties of stuffed mushrooms - habanero for asbestos palates and blue cheese for those with milder tastes. For the former, he uses two of the fiery chilies and has been known to clear a room while chopping them. We've reduced the chili to one for a moderate heat level. If you want to sweat, though, add another one or don't remove the seeds and veins, which is where the heat is concentrated. You can prepare the mushrooms through step 7 up to 1 day ahead; cover and chill. Uncover and bake as directed in step 8.
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature
Salt and pepper
How to Make It
Rinse and drain mushrooms and trim off tough stem ends. Gently snap off stems; finely chop stems.
In a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over high heat, frequently stir half the mushroom caps in 1 tablespoon butter until browned on both sides, about 7 minutes. Pour into a bowl and repeat to brown remaining mushrooms in 1 more tablespoon butter; pour into same bowl.
To unwashed pan, add another tablespoon butter, chopped mushroom stems, and shallots; stir often over high heat until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Divide mixture equally between two small bowls.
Rinse chili. Wearing rubber gloves, cut chili in half lengthwise and remove stem; scrape out and discard seeds and veins (see notes). Finely chop chili. Add chili to unwashed pan and stir often over high heat until limp, 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape into one portion of shallot mixture. Add blue cheese to other portion.
Meanwhile, place pretzels in a heavy zip-lock plastic bag and, with a rolling pin, coarsely crush; you should have about 1 cup.
Add 1/3 cup pretzel crumbs and half the cream cheese to each portion of the shallot mixture. Beat with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer on medium speed until blended. Add salt and pepper to taste.
With your hands or a spoon, mound 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons chili-cream cheese mixture in the cavity of each of half the mushroom caps; mound blue cheese-cream cheese mixture in remaining caps. Arrange each flavor of mushrooms in a 9- by 13-inch baking dish or pan. In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a microwave oven; mix with remaining 1/3 cup pretzel crumbs. Sprinkle over mushrooms, gently pressing into filling.
Bake in a 350° regular or convection oven until mushrooms are well browned, 15 to 20 minutes. With a wide spatula, transfer to a platter. Serve warm.