4 egg whites at room temperature
½ lb. sugar (1 cup), finely powdered as below
½ to 1 tsp. vanilla
⅛ to ¼ tsp. cream of tartar
Ingredients and proportions for meringues are always the same. For every 4 egg whites (from 2 oz eggs), use ½ lb sugar. Process the sugar in a food processor to get it very fine so it dissolves more easily.
A pre-heated 225°F oven gives a soft, crunchy meringue; a preheated 275°F oven gives a chewy one. Use bottom heat only and line the baking sheets with parchment paper. Make sure eggs are at room temperature before carefully separating the whites.
Beat the egg whites until foamy in an electric mixer. Add the vanilla and cream of tartar. Add, while continuing to beat, 1 tsp. at a time, the finely powdered sugar. When the mixture stands in stiff peaks on the beater, it is ready to be baked. Spoon the meringue into a large pastry bag fitted with a large plain or fancy tip. Holding the pastry bag perpendicular to the baking sheet lined with parchment paper, pipe flat disks about 3½ inches in diameter and no higher than ¼ inch, spaced about ½ inch apart. Keep the tip down into the meringue and let it spread out rather than lifting the tip. Then add a circle or two to the top of the outer edge of the disks, keeping the tip up to create raised edges. You will be able to fill the centres after baking. When the meringues are dry - depending on the size, after 1 to 2 hrs in the oven - turn it off, open the door and wait 5 minutes. Carefully lift the meringues off the parchment paper and store in an airtight container. Just before serving, fill with fresh berries and whipped cream; or try custard and kiwis. Ice cream with chocolate sauce is delicious too!