Dough preparation: 30 minutes
Resting time for the dough: 1 1/4 hours
Cooking time: A few minutes per batch
An old carnival tradition
Carnival "merveilles" come from an old Basel tradition dating back to the 15th century. They were made during Lent, and the recipe spread throughout Switzerland. The first mention dates from 1771. Everyone, stretching all the way to southwestern France, has their own recipe. They contain flour, butter, sugar, salt and some flavoring (lemon, wine, rum, armagnac, etc.) and are cooked in hot oil.
In his short story, Julie or the New Heloise, Jean-Jacques Rousseau describes the merveille as a Genevan pastry cooked in butter. However, this treat, often served as an aperitif with a glass of white wine, or as a snack, is made with pastry fried in oil. In French-speaking Switzerland, it is made not only for Carnival, but also for other occasions in various regions.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter and lard over low heat; let cool.
- In another pan, heat the water with the cinnamon stick until it colors; let cool.
- In a bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar until pale and light.
- Beat the egg whites to soft peaks.
- Into the egg yolk-sugar mixture, incorporate the eau de vie, wine, cinnamon water, melted butter, lemon juice and salt. Combine well.
- Gently mix in the flour until the mixture thickens. Fold in the egg whites to lighten the mixture.
- Transfer the dough to a floured surface; knead; form into a ball. Lightly cut into the ball with a knife to check the consistency. It should be soft. Let rest for an hour.
- Cut the dough into 6 cm strips, then into 6 cm squares. Cover with a cloth and let rest 15 minutes.
- Roll out the pieces of dough very thinly with a rolling pin. Finally, once the dough has been rolled out, stretch with your fingers until it's like silk, before frying each merveille in hot oil. The secret: they should not be just thin, but ultra-thin.
- Heat the oil and lard in a large pot. When the oil is very hot, fry the merveilles for 10 seconds on each side. When they are nicely golden, remove and drain on a rack, then sprinkle with sugar.
Photo: Gruérien Museum, Bulle
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