Prepare two baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Mix the sugar and cornstarch together in a small bowl.
Place room temperature egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. It is important that the bowl and whisk both be very clean, so that the egg whites whip properly. A small hand-held mixer can be used instead, but the process will take about twice as long.
Begin beating the egg whites on medium speed. Once they are very frothy, begin to slowly rain in the granulated sugar and cornstarch mixture, a tablespoon at a time. Gradually increase the mixer speed to high, and add the vanilla. Beat the whites until they hold stiff peaks, but are not dry or crumbly.
Once the egg whites are stiff, fold in the crushed candy canes. If desired, add a few drops of red food coloring to tint the meringue mixture pink, and stir just until evenly distributed.
Using a teaspoon, drop small rounds of meringue on the prepared baking sheet. Alternately, the meringue can be placed in a pastry piping bag and uniform meringue "kisses" can be piped onto the parchment sheet.
Bake the meringues at 200 degrees F for about 2 hours. The meringues should be hard and dry to the touch, and you should be able to easily lift one from the parchment.
Once the meringues are done, turn off the oven and let them sit in the oven for several hours or overnight. Store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 weeks.
By Jodi from Aurora, CO
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