Merveilleux Two Ways: Egg & Aquafaba Meringues

Merveilleux is a sandwich of two light meringues welded with whipped cream, and then coated with whipped cream all around and dusted with chocolate shavings. I have not tasted or made them before.

In some ways, they are similar to macacrons. I have always been intrigued with macarons. In fact, macacrons were the first cookies I learned how to bake, starting with taking a class in Paris. I did not know I was in over my head at the time; I had never baked cookies before. But once I’ve mastered making macarons, everything else comes easy.

The challenge now is how to make a healthier version of them. I have been experimenting with aquafaba or chickpea liquid to make whipped cream. This recipe gives me another foray in exploring and comparing the taste and technique of using aquafaba, the vegan version of the eggs-based meringue cookies.

The picture on the upper left are merveilleux using egg whites to make the meringues, following David Liebovitz’s recipe. The picture on the upper right are merveilleux made with meringue cookies, highlighted in a pink coloring, using liquid from a can of chickpea. Knowing the many uses of the chickpea liquid, I no longer pour it down the drain. (See the cheat sheet below for details.) Two different ingredients and recipes, both whipped to stiff peaks and baked in a similar fashion (in a 250°F oven, no convection, for an hour to an hour and a half). I can’t say I whipped up the two batters to the same degree of stiffness — due to the very subjective nature of look and feel of stiff peaks. The chickpea liquid certainly took longer to whip to a stiff peak.

I’m quite surprised that the results of these meringues were not that drastically different. I can’t tell the difference in taste; the sweetness from sugar dominates. The egg version seems to be sturdier. But that might have something to do with how stiff the batter was whipped up. The pictures of the two kinds of meringue are shown below. Different sugars are used: confectioners’ sugar with the egg whites and granulated sugar with the chickpea liquid. That might have accounted for the variation in texture. All in all, the vegan alternative is holding up nicely against the eggs and shows tremendous promise. I am encouraged to see that the vegan meringue is a robust and viable alternative.

Vegan meringues
Egg meringues

While the merigues are in the oven, the next step is to make the chantilly cream, a mixture of heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar and instant espresso powder whipped at medium high speed to a stiff peak, as thick as that of buttercream. David tells us that it’s important to beat the cream until it’s as stiff as possible. In retrospect, I did not stiffen the cream enough. I left the cream in the fridge overnight. They became watery and I had to whip it up again to coat the meringue cookies the next day.

The next step is to sandwich the cream between two meringue cookies. Coat the outside with an even layer of the chantilly cream. I found that very messy to do, without a doubt.

Finally, each sandwich cake is rolled in shaved chocolate. The task goes faster and smoother when the cakes are chilled. I put them in the freezer for half an hour or longer, that makes rolling them in chocolate so much easier. I think the cakes taste better too when they are thoroughly chilled. However, the cakes get soggy when they spend too much time in the fridge. My underwhipped cream had wreaked havoc!

My takeaway from this bake: it’s easier to make macacrons! It’s also straightforward to make macacrons looking lovely and colorful, without getting your fingers all dirty and sticky. But that’s like splitting hair. Macacrons or Merveilleux? They are both exceptional and fantastic cookies on special occasions when you have the time to make them.

cream of tartar is used to stabilize the meringues

Please visit Cook-the-book-fridays to see the comments and discussions on this recipe from the online group, a community of engaging home cooks, who are working through each and every recipe in David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen. You are welcome to join the group and cook along with us.

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  • Reply
    Mardi (eat. live. travel. write.)
    February 17, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    I'm sick of macarons so these were a fun challenge! Messy though! I am intrigued by aquafaba but what would you use to make the finished product vegan if that was your goal? Because, cream 😉 I'll be making these again when I have time….

  • Reply
    February 17, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    Yes, certainly going vegan is the goal. There are ways to do it. It's an exciting and promising area to explore.

  • Reply
    Mary Hirsch
    February 18, 2017 at 3:31 am

    What an interesting article, Shirley. I am needing the "cheat sheet" because I have never heard of aquafaba. I couldn't do the merveilleux because of our rains and too much humidity so I did the chocolate-dulce de leche tart. But as soon as we get some sunshine out here in California (I don't know when that will be), I will be making them and may try macarons. I have never made them. Nice informative post, as always.

  • Reply
    February 18, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    I like both of your versions, quite interesting. As Mary stated, I have never heard of aquafaba either, but hey, there's a lot of things I don't
    know about. Going to research that now.

  • Reply
    February 22, 2017 at 11:30 am

    I'm so intrigued by the chickpea water meringues, even if it's in a don't-waste-food/science experiment kind of way. This dessert sounds amazing, but like something I'm better off attempting after my baby is old enough to stop clinging to me.

  • Reply
    February 22, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    The vegan meringue is part science experiment, part nutritious substitution and a fun bake.

  • Reply
    February 28, 2017 at 11:09 am

    I agree with you that macarons are easier of the two to make (so long if we don't muck around with the quantity of the sugar required!); but taste wise? Both equally delicious!

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