Preheat the oven to 300ºF. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper, or lightly butter and flour them. In a clean glass or copper bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and 2 cups of the confectioners' sugar together until smooth. Beat in the remaining 1¾ cups sugar and the Alchermes or other flavoring and continue beating until stiff glossy peaks form.
Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a large star tip with the meringue. Pipe 1 1/2-inch meringues onto the cookie sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Sprinkle the tops of the meringues with colored sprinkles.
Bake, rotating the sheets once or twice, for about 1 hour, or until the meringues are firm and completely dry. Remove from the parchment paper and let cool completely on wire racks.
Variation: Sandwich the meringues together with sweetened whipped cream and serve with sliced strawberries for an elegant dessert.
One half pint (1 cup) raspberries, gently washed and dried
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Puree the berries in a food processor or blender until very smooth. Strain the juice in a fine mesh sieve over a bowl; discard the seeds and residue pulp.
Stir the sugar and lemon juice into the bowl with the raspberry puree. I store the sauce in plastic squeeze bottles, then decorate the plates of spumone just before serving.
Store the sauce in the refrigerator.
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