Preheat oven to 200°F
Wipe down bowls and beater with lemon juice or vinegar
In a measuring cup, mix together the sugar and salt and set aside
In a medium mixing bowl, begin beating the egg whites on low speed until bubbles form. Add cream of tartar. Continue beating until the bubbles become smaller and more crowded. While beating, slowly add the sugar and salt mixture in thirds, incorporating well before adding the next batch. Raise speed to medium-low and continue beating until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla extract. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. If you're not sure what stiff peaks look like, please read notes above. The process took me 15 - 18 minutes.
Separate out 3 tbsp of mixture into a small bowl. Separate out another 3 tbsp of mixture into another small bowl. These will be used for the beaks and tummy of the penguins.
In one small bowl, use a toothpick to add a few dabs of yellow gel coloring. Mix with a spoon or spatula until the color is incorporated. Add more color if needed.
In the original bowl of meringue, use a toothpick to add a few dabs of gel coloring of your choice (I use blue). Mix with a spoon or spatula until the color is incorporated. Add more color if needed.
Turn a baking tray upside down and cover with a sheet of parchment paper. If the parchment paper is curling or lifting, glue it down with a couple dabs of meringue in the corners. Turning the baking tray upside down ensures a more flat surface for your cookies.
Fill a piping bag with your primary color of meringue and pipe mounds onto the baking tray, spaced 1 inch apart. My penguins are about 1 inch in diameter and 1.5 inches tall.
Fill a piping bag with the yellow meringue. Snip a small hole and pipe beaks on the penguins.
Fill a piping bag with the white meringue. Snip a small hole and pipe round tummies on the penguins.
Place in oven and bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours. When finished, the meringues should feel dry and not sticky to the touch. They should not be strongly browned.
Open the oven door and let cool slowly for 10 - 15 minutes. Then remove from oven and let cool completely.
Mix black gel dye with vanilla extract. Use a toothpick with the point flattened down to draw on the eyes.
Enjoy the cookies plain or as a drink topper!