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Recipe for strawberry-meringue kisses dipped in chocolate

Makes 4 dozen

These pink one-bite strawberry meringues are dipped into chocolate. Buy freeze-dried strawberries and turn them into a powder (discard the moisture-absorbent pack first, of course). Use leftover strawberries to sprinkle over yogurt or blend into smoothies. Freeze-dried strawberries are available at Trader Joe’s and Wegmans. Make sure your bowl and beaters are clean (see related story on Page 3). Use a couple of tablespoons of vinegar mixed with water to get rid of any soap residue. You also need a 14- to 16-inch pastry bag and a ½-inch plain round tip. Pipe the meringues on a sheet (the mixture is too thick to spoon) and bake in low oven for 1½ hours until they dry out. After cooling, before dipping the meringue kisses, add a small amount of shortening to the melted dark chocolate to prevent the coating from discoloring for a couple of days. (Not that these morsels will be around that long.)

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1ounce freeze-dried strawberries
½cup sugar
2large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
3ounces bittersweet chocolate
1teaspoon solid vegetable shortening

1. Place an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Set the oven at 225 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set a sheet of waxed paper on a rimmed baking sheet.

2. In a food processor, work the strawberries until they turn into a powder (you need ¼ cup of powder). Set a tea or other fine strainer over a bowl. Work the powder through it. Add the sugar to the strawberry powder.

3. In an electric mixer, beat the egg whites on medium speed until they start to foam. Beat in the salt. Turn off the machine and add 1 tablespoon of the strawberry mixture. Continue beating on medium speed for 2 minutes. Turn off the mixer again. Sprinkle the whites with 1 tablespoon more of the strawberry mixture. Continue beating for 1 minute. Repeat this stop-start process until all the powder has been beaten into the whites. Finally beat at high speed for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the meringue is thick and glossy.

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4. Slip the pastry tip into the pastry bag and fill the bag with meringue. Give the bag a couple of twists to close it. Lift the corners of the parchment on the baking sheet and pipe a small dot of meringue in each corner. Press the paper back down so it stays in place.

5. Holding the bag straight up, place the tip about ¼ inch above the parchment. Gently squeeze the bag to make a mound that is a little more than ½ inch wide at the bottom and ¾ inch high. Without moving the bag stop squeezing for just a second, then pull the bag straight up to make the peak on top. Continue to pipe meringues in this way, spacing them ½ inch apart, until you have about 48.

6. Bake the meringues for 1½ hours, or until you can pull them off easily from the parchment and they feel dry to the touch. Turn off the oven and let them sit for 2 hours to finish drying.

7. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the chocolate and shortening. Stir well. Remove the pan from the heat.

8. Holding the meringues lightly near the tops, dip the bottoms and 1/16 inch of the sides into the chocolate. Set on the waxed paper to dry. Store in an airtight container. Ingrid Lysgaard