adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
(makes 8 discs and approximately 15 kisses)
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 egg whites
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon cocoa, sifted
Heat oven to 225° F. On a large piece of parchment paper, trace 8 2 ¼” circles. Turn the paper over and place it on a baking sheet.
Sift the sugar and cornstarch into a small bowl.
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, vanilla, and salt at high speed until very soft peaks form – this will take 30-40 seconds. Reduce the mixer speed to medium, and slowly stream in the sugar mixture down the side of the bowl. Once all the sugar has been added, scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 40 seconds. Add the cocoa powder and mix until it is fully incorporated and no streaks remain.
Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip (or you can use a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off – it’s what I used for many years). Following the traced line of the circles, pipe the meringue into a spiral. After you have piped 8 circles, pipe the remaining meringue into 1” wide and 1” high spirals.
Bake the meringues for 1 hour, rotating the pan halfway through. After an hour, turn off the oven, but leave the meringues in the oven for at least 1 hour so that they can fully dry out.
The meringues can be made up to a week in advance and stored in an airtight container.