If you follow any of my social media accounts then you probably know that I went on a little trip to Lille in France a few weeks ago. Lille has some fantastic restaurants (my main motivation for going) and it’s also home to these little pillows of loveliness.
Merveilleux are meringues with a very thin crisp, almost caramelised shell and soft, cloud like interior. They’re covered in whipped cream and given a crunchy coating. I didn’t think that I was going to like them at first because I don’t actually have a particularly sweet tooth but the cream balances the sweetness of the meringue perfectly. They really are quite delicious.
We bought ours from Merveilleux de Fred, where people queue out the door to get them and they come in lots of different flavours with names like ‘Incroyable’ and ‘Impensable’. Mr Colonial Cravings has christened my version ‘formidable’!
They are a little tricky to coat because the meringue is so fragile but once the cream is on they should be fine, no one expects you to be as skilled as these ladies on your first attempt (I really wasn’t!).
1 egg white
the weight of the egg white in sugar
the weight of the egg white in icing sugar
250ml double cream
1 tsp espresso powder
2-3 tsp of sugar (or to taste)
pinch of cinnamon
about 15 speculoos biscuits (crushed)
Pre-heat your oven to 170°c and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Whip the egg white until it holds stiff peaks. Add half of the sugar and whisk again. Repeat this with the rest of the sugar and the icing sugar and continue to whip the mixture until it smooth, stiff and glossy.
Transfer the meringue to a piping bag with a large round tip (or just snip the end off a disposable one) and pipe six flat discs of meringue on the prepared baking sheet. Now pipe six little mounds of meringue, slightly narrower in diameter than the discs.
Bake the meringues for about 35 minutes, they should become quite golden and almost caramelised on the outside. Once they’re cooked take them out of the oven and leave them on the tray to cool.
Combine the cream with the sugar, coffee and cinnamon in a large bowl and whip until fluffy. Be careful not to over whip it though. Spread the crushed biscuits onto a large plate or a baking tray. Now you’re all set to assemble the merveillieux.
Be careful when handling the meringues, they’ll be much more fragile than traditional ones.
Add a dollop of cream to each of your meringue disc and then sit one of the mounds on top. Gently coat each of these stacks in the cream and then roll them in the biscuit crumbs, patting them in a little to make sure that they are well covered. Chill in the fridge so that they can firm up a little bit before serving.