Presented in decorative tins, these sparkly meringues are satisfying both to make and to give. And you don't have to stick to the snowflake design; the meringue can be piped into snowmen, wreaths, Christmas trees, or just about any shape you like. Tip: For the best results, avoid making them on a humid day.
Heat the oven to 200º. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until frothy, about 3 minutes. Set the mixer speed to high and beat another 3 minutes or so until the eggs whites are fluffy.
Add the confectioner's sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue beating until the egg whites are stiff and glossy, about 5 minutes. Then beat in the extract.
Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Use a pencil to draw snowflake patterns on the paper. The meringues will not spread, so they can be drawn fairly close together. Turn the papers printed-side down and stick them to the baking sheets by dabbing a little meringue in each corner.
Spoon the meringue into a large pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch round tip and pipe it, erring on the thick side so the snowflakes will be less fragile, onto the paper-lined sheets following the patterns. Sprinkle the meringues with colored sugar or edible glitter.
Bake the snowflakes until dry but not browned, about 1 hour. Carefully slide the parchment paper from the baking sheets to wire racks and let the meringues cool completely.
Using scissors, cut the paper between the meringues to separate them. Then gently peel away the paper from each one, keeping one hand under the snowflake to support the edges. The meringues will stay crisp for up to 2 weeks if stored in an airtight container at room temperature (do not refrigerate them). Makes about 20.