When I was in France, I tried a pastry called a merveilleux, and it was indeed merveilleux. The bottom was meringue, the top was chocolate buttercream about one degree short of being all butter and no cream, and it was covered with chocolate ganache. I’m usually not a meringue fan but in this case the combination of flaky and crunchy and creamy was heavenly. The only drawback was that it was so rich and sugary – and humongous – that even between two people we couldn’t finish it. And not finishing dessert is just about the saddest thing there is.
A few weeks after my return I went to a party at which a box of the most delightful-looking confections was being passed around. Their appearance must have added to the enjoyment of eating them: little fluffy mountains of something or other covered in delicate pink and ivory and tan and brown shavings. They looked like something out of Marie Antoinette:
But I couldn’t find the person who brought them to ask what they were and figure out whether they were gluten-free, so I never tasted them. And turning down dessert is the second saddest thing there is.
Then my subscription to a daily email for French expatriots in New York (I know I am not a French expatriot in New York) paid off, because a few weeks later it heralded the opening of the first Aux Merveilleux de Fred shop in the United States, in the West Village. It turns out the adorable little things I had salivated over at the party were a modified version – nymphettes – of the big old merveilleux I had in Alsace.
I visited the shop the next day, and though I really should have stopped at two, I ate four of them because a. they were delicious and b. it was my first week at my new job. If you’re in the city, I’d highly recommend stopping by to try them, or at least to ogle them through the store’s picture window – they really are almost as beautiful to look at as to taste. I’m expecting them to go the way of the cronut any day now…