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The Joy of Cookies

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A selection of readers’ favorite Christmas cookie recipes tested by the Times.

Sparkling Sugar Kisses

2 large egg whites
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup (31/2 ounces) sugar, superfine preferred
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or the extract of your choice
Coarse sugar

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
In a large, very clean, nonplastic bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy, then add the salt and cream of tartar. Add the sugar gradually, continuing to beat until the meringue is thick and glossy and forms stiff peaks. Beat in the vanilla at the end.
Drop meringue by the tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle each with coarse (or colored) sugar. Bake for 1 hour, then turn off the oven and let the kisses cool in the unopened oven (don’t peek!) for 11/2 to 2 hours, or until they’re dry and crisp all the way through. Remove them from the oven and store in an airtight container.
Makes 2 dozen.
• Stir in 1/2 to 3/4 cup mini-morsel chocolate chips after the vanilla.
• For maple meringues, prepare the meringue for Sparkling Sugar Kisses, substituting 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (33/8 ounces) maple sugar for the granulated sugar, and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon maple extract (or 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon strong maple flavor to taste) for the vanilla extract. Sprinkle meringues with maple sugar instead of the coarse sugar.
Times testing notes: Use a food processor to pulse granulated sugar if you can’t find superfine sugar. Don’t want the hassle? Just use plain granulated sugar, which won’t affect the taste but will make cookies more grainy.
Source: “The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion”

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