Meringues, Individual and Pie Crust

7 egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
2¼ cups superfine sugar
I teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 200ºF to 250ºF. Grease and lightly flour an 8-inch pie plate, and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Beat the egg whites with the salt until stiff. Continue to beat while adding 1½ cups of the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat until the mixture no longer feels grainy when pressed between the fingers.
3. Fold the vanilla and the remaining sugar into the mixture.
4. Using about half of the mixture, spread a thin layer of meringue over the bottom of the prepared pie pan. Build up the sides with meringue to form a deep pie shell. Do not overlap onto the rim of the pan.
5. Form the remaining meringue into 9 to 12 ovals, using 2 serving spoons to shape them or putting the meringue through a pastry bag fitted with a plain tube. Place the ovals on the prepared baking sheet.
6. Bake the pie shell and the oval meringues for 45 to 60 minutes, or until dry but not brown. To complete the drying process, turn off the oven and allow the shell and meringues to cool slowly with the oven door ajar. In an oven with a pilot light, the shell and meringues may be left in overnight with the door closed.

Yield: 1 meringue pie crust or 9 to 12 individual meringues

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