Meringue. Chocolate laced Chantilly cream. Shaved chocolate. Those simple elements come together in a magical fusion to create merveilleux, a confection that has held France in thrall for years. I have a feeling that we won't have to wait long to see this pastry take hold of American imaginations and pie holes. In fact, if my pastry fairies are right, the Mac Daddy of merveilleux purveyors, Aux Merveilleux de Fred, is scheduled to open shop in NYC any moment now. In the meantime, it takes very little effort to make your own.
For the French (dry) meringue
5 egg whites
1 cup super fine sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
a few drops lemon juice
Preheat oven to 250º. Line two half sheet pans with parchment and set aside. Fit a large pastry bag with a large open tip. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the egg whites, lemon juice and salt. Whisk on high until the egg whites look foamy and just start to take on a bit of volume. Slowly add the sugar just a tablespoon at a time. Continue slowly adding and whisking until all the sugar is added and the meringue is very stiff, white and shiny.
Transfer the meringue to the prepared pastry bag and pipe the meringue onto the prepared parchment lined sheet pans in 2 - 3 inch circles. I never worry too much about uniformity, just as long as the meringues are vaguely the same size.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes. Turn the sheet pan and bake or 10 to 15 minutes more or until the meringues are baked through and just begin to take on a little color. Allow to cool completely.
For the Chantilly cream
3 cups cold heavy cream
1/3 cup cocoa powder (I prefer Dutched cocoa)
1/3 cup confectioner's sugar
In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa, confectioner's sugar and salt. Add a few tablespoons of cream and stir together to form a smooth paste. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and add the remainder of the heavy cream. Whisk until stiff peaks form.
Dollop a hearty spoonful of the whipping cream onto a meringue round and smooth over the top and the sides. Add a second meringue and place another dollop of cream on top and, using a small offset spatula, smooth the Chantilly cream over the top and sides of the meringue. Continue with the remaining meringues and place on a parchment lined sheet pan. Place in the freezer to set, about 1/2 hour.
1 - 2 (3 oz.) bars semi-sweet chocolate
Using a clean vegetable peeler, shave a bar of semi sweet chocolate into fine bits. Coat the top and sides of the set Chantilly cream covered meringues, using a dinner knife to press the shavings onto the sides of the meringue.
Prior to serving, I like my merveilleux to set in the freezer about 20 minutes but no more. This gives the cream a little more structure but not so much that it's frozen.