A few weeks ago, I was walking in the West Village when I passed a lovely storefront with a large crystal chandelier that reminded me of an antique shop, but there was a woman decorating pastries in the window. Upon further inspection, I discovered that the shop is the first U.S. outpost of the French bakery Aux Merveilleux de Fred. The bakery specializes in two products - the namesake merveilleux and cramiques.
Merveilleux are meringue cookie sandwiches covered in whipped cream and toppings such as shaved chocolate or nuts. Although the pastries look like something that Marie Antoinette could have been found eating at Le Petit Trionen, they are of Belgian origin and the name is associated with the French Directory era (merveilleuses were women who wore over-the-top fashions in the period after M.A. met her unfortunate end).
The merveilluex come in six flavors with fanciful names:
- le merveilleux (the marvelous) = dark Belgian chocolate;
- l’incroyable (the incredible = speculoos cinnamon cookie and white chocolate;
- l’impensable (the unbelievable) = coffee;
- le magnifique (the magnificent = praline and carmelized hazelnuts;
- le sans-culotte (the revolutionary) = caramel confectionary; and
- l’excentrique (the eccentric) = amarena cherry.
The mini is $2.25, individual is $4.95, and cakes can be ordered from $5.70 per person and serve 4 to 24 people.
On my first visit, I tried a chocolate merveilleux, which was light while still tasting decadent (and delicious!). On my second visit, I opted for the amarena cherry, which was the most aesthetically pleasing, resembling an upscale Hostess Sno Ball. Unfortunately, it was cloyingly sweet. Since I only bought one at a time, they were presented on napkins, but the packaging for larger purchases is quite elegant and would be an impressive hostess present. Added bonus – the merveilleux are gluten-free!
Cramiques are brioche-like breads, which come in various flavors such as sugar, raisin and sugar, and chocolate chip. At $1.70 for a roll and $5.40 for a boule, they are reasonably priced and would be a great addition for a tea party.
My initial thought was that it must be difficult to sustain a business that only sells two products, but based on the number of people shopping during my two short visits, I would say Aux Merveilleux de Fred is here to stay.
Address: 37 8th Ave, New York, NY 10014 (between Jane and Horatio Streets)