HAZELNUT MERINGUE COOKIES
Approximately 48 cookies
1 2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
6 extra large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
8 ounces finely-chopped hazelnuts
Pastry bag fitted with a medium-size star tube
Large baking sheet
Optional: Red and green sprinkles or sweetened cocoa
||Preheat oven to 200 ° F. Set the rack one-third from the bottom.
||Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
||Combine the sugar with the cornstarch.
||Beat egg whites with an electric mixer on highest speed 30 seconds until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Add the sugar mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat until whites are very stiff and shiny, 4-6 minutes.
||Stir in finely-chopped hazelnuts.
||Fill the pastry bag with the mixture and, in one movement, pipe three circles on top of each other, bringing each to a point in the center. Create even rows of meringue circles one-half inch apart on the parchment.
||For Christmas flair, spoon some colored sprinkles over. For chocolate lovers, sprinkle cocoa over others.
||Bake meringues 3 hours without opening the oven door. Turn off oven. Leave meringues inside closed oven overnight. Store in an airtight container. Will keep up to one month.
|Note: Finely-chopped hazelnuts can be purchased at gourmet specialty stores. If unavailable in your area, cut whole nuts in half and chop in a food processor. Blanched almonds may be substituted.