For the crisp meringues: The egg whites perform best at room temperature. Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer
attachment. Whip the egg whites until frothy
, then continue to beat while slowly adding all of the baker's sugar over the course of 1 minute. Add the salt, vanilla bean
scrapings and whip
Fill a pastry bag
fitted with a plain tip with the meringue and pipe into 8 (2-inch) filled-in discs on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 200 degrees F degree oven for 1 hour and turn oven off, leaving the meringue disks in the oven overnight to dry out.
For the soft Italian meringue
: Combine the baker's sugar and water in a small saucepan
. Bring the sugar syrup
to a boil. When the sugar syrup starts to boil, begin whipping the egg whites in an electric mixer. When the syrup reaches 222 degrees F on a sugar thermometer, remove the mixture from the heat and slowly pour into the egg whites. Continue to whip until stiff peaks form.
To assemble: Heat the broiler. Scoop 1 to 2 ounces of your favorite sorbet or ice cream on a disk of crisp
meringue. Using a small spatula
or the back of a spoon, smooth some of the soft meringue around the sorbet
or ice cream
to completely cover it. Repeat for all 8 meringue disks. Lightly brown the meringue by putting under broiler for approximately 1 minute or using a small chef's blowtorch. Serve immediately or return to the freezer to serve later. Can be assembled and frozen for 2 to 4 hours before serving.