Makes about 30, depending on size.
1. Preheat oven to 120°C. Line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper
2. Use an electric mixer to whisk egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, a tablespoon at a time, whisking well between each addition, until sugar dissolves.
3. Once all the sugar has been added, continue to whisk on high for 3 mins. Whisk in the vanilla essence. Rub a small amount of the mixture between your thumb and forefinger – the mixture should not feel grainy.
4. Put mixture into a piping bag or sandwich bag with the end snipped off, pipe meringues onto lined trays. Sprinkle with the sugar crystals or sprinkles to decorate. Reduce the oven temperature to 90°C.
5. Bake meringues for 1 hour 30 mins. Turn oven off and leave meringues in the oven to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.