The expense of the vanilla bean is worth it--the delicate flavor shines through in these cookies, which taste like toasted marshmallows.
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
4 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 225º.
Cover 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper, and secure paper with masking tape.
Scrape seeds from vanilla bean. Reserve vanilla bean for another use.
Place egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high, and gradually add granulated sugar and then powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Add vanilla seeds and extract; beat just until blended.
Spoon batter into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe 60 mounds onto prepared baking sheets.
Bake at 225º for 1 1/2 hours. Turn oven off; cool meringues in closed oven 1 1/2 hours or until dry. Carefully remove the meringues from paper.