3 large egg whites, room temperature*
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
¾ cup superfine sugar**
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract, or the extract of your choice
Preheat oven to 200°F.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
In the squeaky clean, completely dry bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a grease-free whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium-high speed until foamy (about a minute).
Add the cream of tartar and salt, and beat on medium speed, until soft peaks form—soft peaks have tips that don’t stand up on their own. A little at a time, add the sugar, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl.
Increase the mixer speed and whip until stiff, shiny peaks form. Take a bit of the meringue and rub it between your fingers; it shouldn’t feel grainy. If it does, continue beating until all of the sugar has dissolved and it’s silky smooth.
Add vanilla extract and beat to incorporate.
Scoop the meringue into a piping bag fitted with a large tip (I often use a Wilton #2D Drop Flower) or, using two spoons, place 2½” dollops of meringue onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. They won’t spread when they bake. (If you dot the underside of the parchment paper with a bit of the meringue, it will keep the paper from shifting while you work.)
Bake for 1½ to 1¾ hours, rotating the pan halfway through the cooking time.
Check for doneness: Meringues should be pale, fairly crisp, and lift off the parchment without sticking. When they’re done, turn off the oven. Return the pan of meringues to the oven and leave the door slightly ajar. Allow to cool and dry for a couple of hours or overnight.
*Not a speck of yolk, please! Fat/oil and water are the enemy of meringues. Your whites will not beat properly.
**If you don’t have superfine sugar, you can make your own by taking granulated sugar and whirring it around in your food processor until it is fine.