April 28, 2021

Merveilleux

 

 On my last few trips to Paris I remember seeing a pâtisserie shop called Aux Merveilleux de Fred selling Merveilleux (French for Marvelous), which are cakes made out of meringues sandwiched with whipped cream and covered in chocolate shavings.  The desserts looked so pretty but for some reason I never bothered having a taste, which in hindsight I really regret.  On the bright side I now have something to look forward to when I return to Paris, right?  

Hopefully we'll be able to safely resume international travel in 2022, but until then I'll have to be content with making merveilleux chez moi.  I ended up using David Lebovitz's recipe from his book, My Paris Kitchen, because it had received good reviews when I was searching for merveilleux recipes online.  
 
The desserts aren't difficult to make and the steps can be spread out over multiple days, which is what I did, but the process to make the merveilleux can be messy.  In particular the part where you fill and coat the meringues with whipped cream.  If your cream isn't beaten to a stiffness similar to buttercream I can see easily foresee challenges getting it to stay intact.  Next time I'll add more whipped cream in the middle and on top to get the really tall cone shape like the cakes I saw in Paris.  Even if your merveilleux aren't shop display worthy don't worry because the final coating of chocolate shavings hides all kinds of imperfections. 

Wanting to make as many flavors of merveilleux as possible in one go, I split the filling recipe into thirds and made stracciatella, strawberry and coffee chocolate chip.    Based on it's appearance you might think the merveilleux would be really sweet, but in fact it's not.  The lightly sweetened whipped cream is a really nice contrast to the crispy meringue cookie.  Delicieux!  An added bonus is that the cakes are 100% gluten-free which makes them perfect for anyone with a wheat intolerance.  Until I can hop of a plane to the city of lights I'll be happy enjoying my homemade merveilleux.  

Merveilleux
 
Makes 10 individual cakes
 
Meringues
1/2 cup (125ml) egg whites, at room temperature (from about 4 large eggs)
pinch of sea salt or kosher salt
1 cup (140g) powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon white or cider vinegar
 
Filling
2 1/2 cups (625ml) heavy cream
2/3 cup (90g) powdered sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup (80g) crème fraîche (optional) 
 
NOTE: My adaptions for the filling were as follows:
  • Straciatella: 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, melted and slightly cooled
  • Strawberry: 1/4 cup freeze-dried strawberry powder
  • Coffee Chocolate Chip: 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder mixed with 1 teaspoon warm water
Coating
dark chocolate curls, pink chocolate curls, crushed chocolate chip cookies 
 
Preheat the oven to 275F (135C).  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  
 
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy.  Add the salt, turn the mixer to high, and whip until the egg whites are almost stiff and stand in peaks.  Lower the speed and add the powdered sugar in three batches.  Add the vanilla and vinegar and increase the speed to high; whip until stiff.

Using a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch (1.5cm) plain tip, or an offset spatula, pipe or spread the meringue onto the baking sheets in twenty (2-inch/5cm) circles, evenly spaced, ten per sheet.  Each circle should be relatively thick, at least 1-inch (2.5cm) high.

Bake the meringues for 1 hour.  Turn off the oven and let the meringues remain in there until the oven is cool and the meringues are dry and crisp.

To make the merveilleux, set out ten paper muffin cups on a small baking sheet or platter and flatten them slightly.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, whip the cream at high speed until it holds its shape.  Spoon in the powdered sugar and vanilla extract.  Whip at medium-high speed until very stiff.  The cream is done with it holds its shape quite firmly without drooping.  (If it's not stiff enough, it will seep and make the meringues soggy as they sit.  So do make sure it's stiff and shiny; it should almost reach the point where it is nearly as thick as buttercream.) At the end, whip in the crème fraîche.
 
[At this point, I divided the filling into thirds and put in a separate bowl.  Add in the various filling additions and mix until well combined.]
 
Spread a generous layer of the cream over ten of the meringues; the layer should be about as thick as the meringue.  Sandwich the cream with another meringue, and then coat the outside of each cake with a layer of the whipped cream.  
 
Roll each cake generously in the coating, making sure all cream-covered surfaces are coated as best you can.  Use a spoon to lift the cakes and place each one in a muffin paper cup, bottom side down.  Refrigerate the cakes for at least 1 hour or until ready to serve, and serve the cakes chilled.

8 comments:

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