Virtually fat-free, crisp baked meringues can be a dieter's best friend. Top these individual meringue shells with fresh strawberries and a fluffy low-fat white chocolate topping to make a low-fat dessert that satisfies any sweet tooth.
1. Position oven racks in second and third levels in oven, if using 2 small baking sheets. Heat oven to 250 degrees F. Trace six 4-inch circles on foil-lined or parchment-lined large baking sheet or 2 smaller baking sheets (if using parchment, flip paper over after tracing because markings may come off on meringue). Fit large pastry bag with medium-size star tip.
2. Beat whites, cream of tartar and salt in bowl at medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, a tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Beat in extract.
3. If using parchment paper, place dab of meringue under each corner to anchor paper. Fill pastry bag with half the meringue. Starting at just inside marked round, pipe decorative edge around entire circle. Pipe in rest of circle with meringue mixture until completely filled. Repeat with the remaining meringue and traced circles.
4. Bake in 250 degree F oven 1 hour or until tops of meringues are dry and smooth and yield slightly when pressed with fingertip; if baking meringues on 2 smaller sheets, turn and reverse sheets halfway through baking. Turn oven off. Let meringues stand in oven 1 hour or overnight.
5. Remove baking sheets to wire rack; let stand 10 minutes. Remove meringues from lined baking sheet to wire rack to cool completely (may be necessary to gently loosen meringues from foil with long, thin metal spatula before peeling off foil).Topping:
6. Meanwhile, combine chocolate, whipped topping mix and milk in small, heavy saucepan over lowest heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in vanilla and salt. Pour into large bowl; cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours or until mixture is very cold.
7. When ready to serve, beat topping mixture on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 1-1/2 minutes. Place 1 meringue on dessert plate. Top with 1/2 cup strawberries. Spoon 2 tablespoons topping over berries. Repeat with remaining meringues, strawberries and topping. Refrigerate leftover topping for another dessert. Makes 6 servings.Note:
8. Store plain meringues in tightly sealed tins. For a larger crowd, just double the recipe.