Food editor Kristina Kurek mixed fresh vanilla bean seeds and citrus zest into a meringue cookie. The result -- a sweet, swirly cloud that tastes as good as it looks.
- 3 large egg whites, room temperature
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
- Large pinch of salt
- Large pinch of cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange zest
- Gel-paste food coloring, in orange
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Combine egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl. Add vanilla bean seeds. Set bowl over a pot of simmering water, and stir until sugar dissolves and mixture is warm, about 3 minutes. Add salt and cream of tartar.
Beat with a mixer on medium-high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form and meringue is mostly cooled, about 7 minutes. Beat in zest.
Using a small paintbrush, paint 3 vertical stripes of food coloring inside a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip (Ateco #805). Fill bag with meringue, and pipe 1 3/4-inch circular shapes (they don't need to be perfect rounds) 2 inches apart on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. As you finish piping each shape, apply less pressure to pastry bag, and swirl the tip off in a circular motion.
Bake meringues until crisp on the outside but still soft inside, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.