The Merveilleux ($2 small, $5 large), the signature offering of the new Upper East Side bakery O Merveilleux, is a deceptively simple pastry. It consists of only three components: meringue, whipped cream, and one of four different coatings. I tried both the dark chocolate and speculoos versions.
On first glance the merveilleux looks like some kind of misshapen cupcake, but the resemblance ends there. It's composed of two whisper-light, hard meringue layers. Lightly sweetened whipped cream is then spread in between and around the meringue. Finally, a small amount of dark chocolate shavings are sprinkled on the outside. The other two flavors are identical except they feature white chocolate or speculoos on the outside in place of the dark chocolate.
It's a refreshing departure from many popular pastries that often try to incorporate too many ingredients or are over-refined. This dessert offers two simple but great texture experiences—a light, crunchy meringue—and an even lighter whipped cream. The dessert is so airy that you could eat it in the middle of the day without having to worry about feeling too full.
I preferred the dark chocolate shavings to the speculoos, but the tangy ginger in the latter may appeal to some. I also tried the Raisin Brioche ($2.50) and enjoyed the aroma and flavor, though it was a bit on the dense side. The shop itself is very pleasant with lots of natural light and a large wooden communal table in the back. There's even a window into the kitchen so you can watch the pastry chefs—who, I suspect, will be very busy.