How to Make Meringue Cookies
Meringues are unlike any other cookie. They melt in your mouth, and the basic formula–stiffly beaten egg whites and sugar–is virtually fat free and a blank canvas waiting to take on a variety of flavors.
Step One: Start with the Eggs
Start with chilled eggs, since they're easier to separate without breaking the yolks. Gently crack the egg, keeping the shell together. Hold a cupped hand over a bowl. With the other, gently separate the shell along the crack, letting the yolk and white drip into your waiting hand. Keeping the solid yolk in your hand, allow the white to fall through your fingers into the bowl below. Fat, which is found in yolks, is the enemy of light, airy, stiffly beaten egg whites. Reserve the yolk in a separate bowl for another use, and throw away the shell.
Step Two: Initial Mixing
Place the egg whites and cream of tartar (added to stabilize the egg whites) in a large, clean bowl; beat with a mixer with clean, dry beaters at medium speed until soft peaks form.
Step Three: Increase Mixing, Add Sugar
Increase the mixer speed to high, and gradually add granulated sugar and then powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Add vanilla seeds and extract; beat just until blended.
Step Four: Pastry Art
For picture-perfect meringues, spoon the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip; pipe 60 mounds onto prepared baking sheets.
Step Five: Bake and Finish
You can also scoop the batter with a spoon, using your finger to transfer the batter onto the baking sheets. Bake the meringues slowly at 225° for 1 1/2 hours. Turn the oven off, and leave the meringues in the oven with the door closed for 1 1/2 hours or until the meringues are dry.