2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
2 egg whites, stiffly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup broken nutmeats (optional)
Combine sugar, syrup, water and salt in a medium saucepan; stir constantly, over medium heat, until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil. Boil to medium-ball stage, 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. Beating constantly, slowly pour 1/3 of syrup on the egg whites. Cook remaining syrup to very hard-ball stage, 265 degrees. Pour over first meringue in a fine stream until mixture is stiff and holds its shape, losing its gloss. Add vanilla (and nuts if using). Drop buttered teaspoonfuls on waxed paper and swirl each piece to form peaks. Let stand at room temperature, at least 12 hours, to dry, then store in airtight container between sheets of waxed paper for up to one week.
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