Merveilleux, those traditional meringue morsels prevalent in France and Belgium, seem ready to take over the world as the new hot dessert.
These little delights are spreading to other cities outside of France and Belgium, like London, Los Angeles, New York and Seoul, with some predicting that it will trump its meringue-based cousin, the macaron, as the latest trendy sweet.
Classically a combination of two meringue cookies sandwiched around and topped with cream, the over 100-year-old treat has garnered recent popularity through prominent dessert shops like the France-based Aux Merveilleux de Fred.
Meringue Meringue’s coffee merveilleux is one of five flavors at the shop. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)
Aux Merveilleux de Fred’s morsels have not only won over fans in France, but with overseas shops in London and New York, seems to be garnering a substantial international following as well.
In South Korea, one too will find the European sweet at Meringue Meringue, a small sweet shop that opened on the basement floor of COEX’s Hyundai Department Store in late January.
A sister shop of the well-known, Apgujeong-based dessert bar Dessertree, Meringue Meringue differentiates itself from its older sibling by focusing on merveilleux and other meringue-based treats.
“The main dessert is merveilleux,” said Meringue Meringue managing director Lim Jung-soon.
The glass showcase features five varieties of merveilleux, feather-light treats that melt in one’s mouth.
At Meringue Meringue, one meringue cookie is used instead of the standard two to create an anchor for the cream on top, which Lim explained, is crafted by adding chocolate to whipped cream to create a mousse-like topping that is heavier than whipped cream but lighter than buttercream.
Layering cream over a meringue cookie may seem easy to make, but Lim says, “It looks deceptively simple, but it is not at all.”
Listening to Lim break down the process that went into perfecting Meringue Meringue’s merveilleux, it becomes clear that a great deal of thought went into ensuring that each bite would result in crisp, light meringue that would not be rendered soggy by all that cream, that the cream itself would not melt and run down the sides of the meringue and that the toppings coating the cream would serve as the finishing touch to a harmonious treat in both texture and flavor.
As Lim said, it is far from simple. What it is, is delicious.
Not only does coating the meringue cookie in chocolate insulate the meringue from the cream, it adds a nice, thin layer of richness to the cookie, while adding chocolate to whipped cream seems to help prevent it from melting while adding a hint of decadence as well.
For Lim, the Meringue Meringue merveilleux is “not too sweet, one can eat it in a flash and it is not heavy.”
“It possesses a duality of textures,” Lim, 32, continued. “I think that is its charm. It is crunchy and soft at once.”
Flavors also factor into the equation, and at Meringue Meringue, the most popular flavor, according to Lim, is almond praline, which features a dark chocolate-coated salted caramel meringue topped with almond-hazelnut cream and garnished with flakes of wafer called feuilletine.
The combination of sweet and salty, crisp, airy and crunchy, nutty and creamy, is winsome, to say the least.
Other flavors include bittersweet coffee, rich coconut, dark chocolate and pistachio with more new flavors in the works.
So, will merveilleux catch on in South Korea?
According to Lim, the dessert is as of yet unfamiliar to Koreans, but she has noted a steady increase in customers “who are more familiar with meringue.”
“I feel like it will change little by little,” she said.
By Jean Oh (firstname.lastname@example.org)