Heat oven to 225°F. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar in mixer bowl with whisk attachment on high speed until foamy. Beating constantly, ADD sugar, 2 Tbsp. at a time, until whites are glossy and stand in stiff peaks.
Customize your cookies! With only 4 basic ingredients and multiple tasty variations, these meringue kisses are great for any occasion! Peppermint kisses make a perfect addition to any holiday cookie tray!
Meringue kisses can be made with other nuts – try almonds, walnuts, pistachios or macadamias – or with no nuts at all.
Meringue Mushroom Variation: Line baking sheets as above. Fit pastry bag with large plain round tip (about 1/2 inch); fill with meringue. For mushroom stems, hold bag close to baking sheet and press meringue onto sheet while slowly raising bag straight up. Stems should be about 1-1/2 inches tall and tapered slightly at the top. For mushroom caps, pipe round button shapes (1-1/2 to 2 inches) onto baking sheets and sharply twist and pull bag away. Smooth tops with knife or fingertip. Sprinkle stems and caps lightly with unsweetened cocoa powder. Bake and cool as above. Spread a little melted chocolate on flat sides of mushroom caps; attach stems and let stand until chocolate is set.
Peppermint Kisses Variation: Omit ground almonds. Pipe from a pastry bag fitted with large fluted tip. Sprinkle with finely crushed peppermint candies or candy canes before baking.
Chocolate Sprinkle Variation: Omit ground almonds. Pipe from a pastry bag fitted with large fluted tip. Sprinkle with chocolate jimmies before baking.
Chocolate Kisses Variation: Omit ground almonds. Beat in 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder and 2 tsp. vanilla after stiff peaks have formed.
Citrus Kisses Variation: Omit ground almonds. Beat in 2 Tbsp. freshly grated orange peel and 1/2 tsp. lemon extract after stiff peaks have formed. Add a few drops of yellow food coloring, if desired.
Mint-Chocolate Chip Kisses Variation: Omit ground almonds. Beat in 1/2 tsp. mint extract and a few drops of green food coloring, if desired, after stiff peaks have formed. Fold in 1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips. Pipe from pastry bag fitted with large plain round tip.
Rocky Road Kisses Variation: Omit ground almonds. Beat in 2 tsp. vanilla after stiff peaks have formed. Fold in 1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips and 1 cup finely chopped peanuts, pecans or almonds. Pipe from pastry bag fitted with large plain round tip.
A dry day is best. Meringue kisses made on humid days absorb moisture from the air, causing them to flatten out when baked and to lose their crispness.
Substitution: 1 cup granulated sugar can be substituted for the powdered sugar. Beat after each addition until sugar is dissolved before adding the next. Rub a bit of meringue between thumb and forefinger; it should feel completely smooth.
Baking sheets can be lightly greased and floured, if desired.
No pastry bag? Drop meringue by tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets.
To store: Place meringue kisses in tightly sealed container, with waxed paper between layers.
To re-crisp: If stored kisses lose their crispness, bake in 200°F oven 15 to 20 minutes.