Perfect recipe! I have made them a dozen times at least. I bring them to xmas parties and mail them to old friends (they ship well and store for weeks in ziplocks). If you take care in your presentation and serve them mid-summer, people may ask you how sure you are these are not poisonous mushrooms :).
If your first batch of meringue is not stiff enough for making stems - don't despair - just use it all to make caps. Then make a second batch on a drier day, leaving out vanilla and being extra-careful to make the perfect stiff meringue for stems.
I found that my hand mixer with two beaters is much better at making a stiff meringue than when I use the single whisk attachment. A cookie decorating bag with the tip removed works really well for making stems, but a larger/stiffer ziplock will do in a pinch.
I usually don't measure the volume of eggs, and just use 3 large whites for this recipe. It still works if you leave out the salt and cream of tartar, but perhaps the eggs whip better with these ingredients. Doubling the recipe does not quite double your yield, because so much depends on the amount of air you manage to incorporate.
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Perfect recipe! I have made them a dozen times at least. I bring them to xmas parties and mail...