Blackberry Meringue Bites

I LOVE meringue. My husband's Aunt Mae used to call it "calf slobber," but that has never dissuaded me from relishing the weightless hint of sweet that accompanies lemon-meringue pies, coconut cream-meringue pies, pavlova, divinity, and Baked Alaska. It's amazing what a few egg whites can do! This is a recipe I came across when forming a menu for my latest tea class. Leave it to Martha to come up with these most adorable little puffs of deliciousness. dsc02147.jpg Blackberry Meringue Bites (adapted from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The Original Classics)

Makes about 2 dozen 2 large egg whites, room temperature 1/2 cup sugar pinch of cream of tartar 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract 1/2 cup whipped heavy cream 1/2 pound blackberries Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Fill a medium saucepan one quarter full with water. Set the pan over medium heat, and bring water to a simmer. Combine egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in heat proof bowl ; place over saucepan. Whisk constantly until the sugar is dissolved and the whites are warm to thee touch, 3 -3 1/2 minutes. Test by rubbing mixture between fingers to ensure that no sugar remains. Remove bowl. With whisk attachment on mixer, beat, starting on low speed and gradually increasing to high until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 10 minutes. Add the almond extract, and mix until combined.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a 1-inch cookie cutter, draw 25 circles on each piece of parchment. Turn the paper over onto sheets. Preheat the oven to 200F. Fit a pastry bag with a small star tip and fill the bag with meringue. Cover one of the circles with an even layer of the meringue. Pipe around the circumference, making a 1 -inch-high cup. Transfer sheets to the oven, and bake 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 175F. and bake until the meringue has dried but is still white 35-40 minutes more. Let cool. Fit another pastry bag with round tip. Fill with whipped cream. Pipe about 1 1/2 teaspoons of whipped cream into meringue cups to almost full, and top with blackberry. Dust with sugar, and serve immediately.