This Merveilleux translates to wonderful or marvellous in French and it is essentially a French reverse pavlova! They're often served as individual cakes but for Christmas I wanted to try my hand at making a large one. The most laborious thing is making the chocolate shavings - as long as you have a fairly sharp vegetable peeler you'll be fine.
A Merveilleux is possibly easier than a pavlova as you use a meringue rather than a pavlova (meringue is hard all the way through whereas pavlova has a soft centre).You them take the two halves, sandwich it with cream (and passion fruit curd in my case) and then freeze it until hard. Then cover the whole thing in cream and chocolate shavings! C'est magnifique!!
The Marvellous Merveilleux
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Step 1 - Preheat oven to 100C/212F. Trace two 17cm/6.9inch rounds on parchment and then flip the parchment over. I also used a bake snake to keep the meringue bound up and to limit its spread (you can also use springform cake rings lined with parchment if you don't have a bake snake).
Step 2 -Make sure that your bowl and whisk attachment are very clean. Place the egg whites in the bowl with the cream of tartar and start to whisk until you get soft peaks. Gradually add the two sugars while whisking at high speed and whisk until you start to get stiff peaks. Add the salt and vanilla and whisk until you can tip the bowl upside down and the meringue doesn't move. Scoop into the prepared tins and bake for 2 hours. Turn off the heat and allow to cool in the oven overnight.
Step 3 -While it is baking you can start with the chocolate curls. With a sharp vegetable peeler take a block of chocolate and start curling by running the peeler along the chocolate. Place in a bowl. If your hands are hot (mine are) then use a tea towel to hold the chocolate to prevent it melting in your hands. Place the bowl of chocolate curls in the freezer to set hard and then place in a container in the fridge until ready to use.
Step 4 -Whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla bean paste until you get soft, peaks that can hold their shape. Take one meringue and use a dab of cream to secure it to a cake board and then add a layer of cream and the curd. Place the other meringue disc on top and then freeze until set hard. Cover the sides and top of the cake with cream and then gently spoon the curls against the cream. If I am not serving this straight away I place it in the freezer uncovered for an hour until it sets hard and then cover it with cling film and then return it to the freezer. Defrost in the fridge the morning you want to serve it.