What better claim can be made by a dessert than that of remaining unrivaled compared to all other cakes? And the claim does not go unfounded either, as this cake is enriched with the flavors of a normally savory, but made somewhat sweet classic Filipino nut, and arguably the best combination of crisp and cream. Sans Rival truly stands up to its name, as you can literally translate it to “without rival” from its French etymology.
Where did Sans Rival come from?
French cuisine actually influenced this dessert greatly. With this, it is often compared to and said to be based on the foreign country’s Dacquoise. Not unlike the Sans Rival, people know and recognize this cake for its delicious layers of meringue and nuts. But one of the main differences is that it utilizes hazelnut or sometimes almond, instead of the signature tropical nut in the Philippines, which is cashew. Both have their beautifully executed tinges of crunchy and creamy. But the Filipino dessert is better tailored to local taste and of course, availability of ingredients.
The arrival of the Sans Rival is said to be rooted from the rise in Filipino students traveling to Europe for their academics. And with some of them staying in France during the 1920s and 1930s, they took home some of the recipes and baking strategies learned from the foreign country.
What is Sans Rival today?
Sans Rival is famously for its decadently sweet and velvety texture, combined with the crunchiness of chopped cashews. But the amazing taste comes from an intricate process of layering carefully picked ingredients to create the unrivaled cake. It is made of cashew nut meringue layered alongside French buttercream, and is best when chilled.
Because of its delightful texture and candied taste, it has grown even more popular over the years. Sans Rival is a famed cake in the Philippines for being the perfect dessert in big family occasions. The decadent surprise often makes appearances in birthdays and holidays.
Since its conception, a great variety of recipes inspired by this cake have sprung into the baking scene. One well-loved dessert that the Sans Rival gave birth to are sylvanas. These are essentially cookie sandwich versions of the nutty, buttercream cake. While they often make for lovely desserts for after dinner, you can also enjoy them as a snack. This is because they are usually smaller than the Sans Rival, as cashew-meringue wafers and buttercream mainly make up this dish. And because you usually eat Sans Rival right after refrigeration, some restaurants and bake shops have also come up with ice cream cake renditions of the dessert. Served frozen, they make for a sweet, icy spin to the buttercream cake.
But you can enjoy this scrumptious, heavenly cake fresh and homemade if you’re looking to try it in your own kitchen! Aren’t you curious about crafting your own piece of this unrivaled creamy dessert?
How do I make my own Sans Rival?
Let’s start by making our meringue shells:
Then preheat the oven to 350 °F to prepare it for baking our meringue shells later on. Whip out your baking pan, and line it evenly with parchment paper to avoid the cake sticking to the pan.
Then combine 1 ounce of ground cashew nuts, 2 ounces of chopped cashew nuts, and 1 ounce of all-purpose flour in a bowl. Start mixing this until they are integrated together properly, and then set it aside.
Continue by grabbing a mixing bowl, and placing egg whites from 6 eggs inside, alongside 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar. Keeping your mixer on low speed, begin whisking the egg whites. You can increase the speed to medium once you notice the mixture beginning to foam. Then slowly add 1 cup of sugar, and continue whisking. Do this until shiny and medium peak forms.
After this, fold your flour mixture from earlier into the egg mixture we just made. Continue folding these in until the ingredients have been blended well together. Then put this mixture into a piping bag, and cut 2 centimeters from its tip. Start piping a circle shape, then do the same for the rest of the pan line with parchment paper. Make sure to distribute these equally onto the paper. Then smooth the top using a scraper or a spatula.
Toss these into the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Once the meringue shells are done baking, quickly flip on another parchment paper and peel off the parchment paper from the bottom. Set this aside and let it cool.
Let’s go on to making our icing:
Combine ¼ cup of water and ¾ cup of sugar in a heavy bottom saucepan, and start to put this over low heat. You can continue stirring until the sugar has dissolved, at which you should increase the heat to medium-high and bring it to a boil. Let the syrup cook until the temperature has become 240°F. Once the temperature has reached this level, immediately remove the saucepan from heat. In the process of doing this, I highly recommend making use of a cooking thermometer for accuracy.
Then place your egg yolks from 6 eggs into a mixing bowl, and combine this with ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract. For 5 minutes, use an electric mixer to let these mix together at a high-speed setting. Also make sure to check the temperature from the syrup we were making earlier. If it has dropped to 200°F, start slowly drizzling this syrup mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Keep mixing these together until the bottom of the bowl is cool to the touch, and the yolk mixture is at room temperature already.
Then integrate 1 ½ cups of unsalted butter, and make sure to add it one cup at a time. Let each piece incorporate into the mix properly before placing the next one. Mix this until the buttercream has become creamy and smooth, which should take around 5-6 minutes.
Let’s put it all together and assemble the cake:
Fill the meringue shells we made with buttercream, and put them on top of one another. Place more icing on top of these and spread them out, also along the sides of the meringue shells, until you have covered the cake with icing.
And for the final touch that can truly make our Sans Rival, sprinkle chopped cashew nuts over the cake, or decorate it as you would like.
After this, be ready to amaze your guests with your delectable layers of sweet Sans Rival!
You may also want to making Binignit (or ginataang halo-halo). This is one of my favorite Filipino snacks.
Did you like this recipe? Let us know what you think!
- 1 ounce cashew nuts ground
- 2 ounces cashew nuts chopped
- 1 ounce all-purpose flour
- 6 pieces eggs large (whites and yolk separated)
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups butter unsalted
- Make the meringue shell. Start by preheating the oven to 350 °F.
- Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
- Combine the ground cashew nuts, chopped cashew nuts and all-purpose flour in a bowl. Mix and set aside.
- Combine egg whites and cream of tartar in a mixing bowl. Begin whisking egg whites on low speed until it begins to foam. Increase speed to medium. Gradually add 1 cup sugar. Continue to whisk until shiny and medium peak forms.
- Fold the flour mixture into the egg white mixture until all the ingredients are well-blended.
- Transfer the mixture into a piping bag. Cut 2 centimeters from the tip. Pipe a circle shape and equally distribute the mixture on the pan line with parchment paper. Smooth the top with a spatula or scraper.
- Bake meringue for 20 to 25 minutes. When the meringue shells are baked, immediately flip on another parchment paper and peel off the parchment paper from the bottom and allow to cool and set aside. Do this step 4 times to make 4 layers.
- Make the Icing by combining water and ¾ cup sugar in a heavy bottom saucepan. Heat saucepan using low heat while stirring until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Allow the syrup to cook until the temperature reaches 240°F. Immediately remove the saucepan from heat. (Note: a cooking thermometer is strongly recommended)
- In a mixing bowl, combine egg yolks and vanilla extract. Whisk for 5 minutes using an electric mixer at a high-speed setting. Check the temperature of the syrup (this is the one made from the previous step). Once the temperature drops to 200°F, slowly drizzle the syrup into the egg yolk mixture. Continue mixing until the bottom of the bowl is cool to the touch and the yolk mixture has cooled to room temperature.
- Add in butter, one cube at a time, allowing each piece to incorporate before adding the next. Continue mixing until buttercream is smooth and creamy. (About 5-6 minutes.)
- Assemble the cake by filling the meringue shells with buttercream, put on top of each other. Spread more icing on top and sides of the meringue shells until the cake is fully covered with icing.
- Sprinkle the cake with chopped cashew nuts or decorate as desired.
- Serve and enjoy!
How many meringue shells did you make? It’s a little confusing on that part of “baking the meringue” then about “assembling one on top of another with buttercream”. So does that mean you have to bake each meringue shells for 20-25 minutes if there are several layers?