4 egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 c. sugar
3/4 tsp. vanilla or 1/4 tsp. almond extract
1-2 drops red or green food coloring (optional)
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line baking sheets with foil. Beat egg whites with a rotary beater or electric mixer at moderate speed until foamy; stir in salt and cream of tartar, add sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and food coloring, if you wish to tint meringue a pastel color. Beat hard at highest speed until meringue is glossy and forms peaks that stand straight when beater is withdrawn.
Drop by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets, leaving surface peaked or smooth into rounded caps. If you prefer, pipe meringue through a pastry bag, fitted with a medium sized plain or star tip making each kiss about 1 1/2 inch diameter.
Bake 35-45 minutes, until creamy-white and firm. For crisp kisses, turn off oven and let kisses cool in oven 2-3 hours without opening door. For chewier kisses, lift foil and kisses to wire rack to cool. Peel kisses from foil, using a spatula to help loosen, if necessary. Store airtight. 20 calories per cookie. Yield: 3 1/2 dozen.