Daring Bakers November Challenge – Sans Rival Cake

This was my first Daring Bakers Challenge and I will definitely be back for more.  Not only has it opened my eyes to a whole new cultural cuisine, but also introduced me to new baking techniques and skills.    Catherine of Munchie Musings was our November Daring Bakers’ host and she challenged us to make a traditional Filipino dessert – the delicious Sans Rival cake!  This is made up of crunchy layers of dacquoise (meringue with crushed nuts- traditionally cashews), sandwiched together with layers of smooth French butter cream.

It tastes as good as it sounds, really delicious!  Super rich and sweet as you can imagine from the ingredients list, so a small piece does the job, but  it had great flavour and textures.  I made a chocolate butter cream for the outside and vanilla for the filling, with a chocolate meringue with almond meal as that was the easiest to find!  I think in the future I would grind the nuts myself, leaving bigger pieces, as I think even more crunch and texture would be better.

I was really impressed with the French butter cream, having only ever made it the quick icing sugar and butter blend it all up way.  The French version, with  sugar syrup, did take a lot longer and was more labour intensive, but the finished product was far superior with a richer and creamier taste, and smoother texture.  I’ll definitely be using it as my staple butter cream if I have a bit of time in the future! I did run out of butter cream in this recipe and had to make a second half quantity, so I recommend doing this from the start as it’s quite time consuming.

Making meringue was  a bit of a gamble, as my oven is far from reliable and doesn’t actually seem to cook from the top.  However, as the oven also doesn’t seem to ever get really hot it was actually quite good for meringue, although it still took two hours to get crispy layers.  As presentation is never my strong point, I coated the sides with white and dark chocolate shards to hide uneven edges!

A Filipino friend said it tasted as it was meant to, so I was pretty satisfied.  I am also inspired to try more Filipino food, as I’ve never really investigated or tried to cook it before.  If it’s all as good as this cake, I think I’ll be cooking a lot in the future!

Sans Rival:
Serves 12-20 (depends how much you can eat, It’s pretty rich!!)

10 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon  cream of tartar ( I didn’t have this so substituted 1 tsp white wine vinegar)
¼ cup  cocoa (optional and not traditional)
1 cup chopped, toasted almonds coarsely chopped (for topping)

1 cup almond meal or finely crushed almonds.


1. Preheat oven to moderate 160°C
2. Line cake pan bottoms with parchment paper and butter and flour the sides  well, it sticks!.
3. In a large clean, dry glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites until foamy (2 mins.). Sprinkle with cream of tartar or vinegar. Gradually add sugar, a couple of tablespoons at a time, continuing to beat now at high speed until stiff shiny peaks form. (about 7-10 mins.)

4. Fold in finely crushed  nuts, reserving enough to use for decoration.

5.Divide meringue into four equal parts. Spread in pans, evenly to edges.

6. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the meringue from the baking pans while still hot; allow to cool slightly. Peel off the parchment paper while it is still warm, it is difficult to remove sometimes when they have completely cooled.

7. When cool, trim edges so that all 4 meringue layers are uniformly shaped. Set aside.

French Buttercream: ( quantities are for 1 1/2 times original recipe to give plenty to cover and fill cake)

8 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
3/4cup water
2 cup  unsalted butter, room temperature

50g dark chocolate melted to flavour

1 tsp vanilla essence to flavour

1. Put the egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Beat at high speed until the yolks have doubled in volume and are a lemon yellow.
2. Put the sugar and water in a heavy pan and cook over medium heat, stirring the sides down only until all the sugar is dissolved and the syrup reaches 112°C (or thread stage).
3. With the mixer on high, very slowly pour the syrup down the sides of the bowl, until all has been added. Be careful!

4.Continue beating on high until the mixture is ROOM TEMPERATURE (about 15 mins).

5. Still on high, beat in the soft, room temperature butter a tablespoon at a time.

6. Divide in half and add melted chocolate to one half and vanilla essence to the other half.

7.  Refrigerate the buttercream for at least an hour, and whip it smooth just before you use it.
Set bottom meringue on cake board with a dab of butter cream to hold it in place. Spread a thin layer of buttercream and then place another meringue on top. Repeat with a thin layer of buttercream, meringue, thin layer of buttercream, meringue, and finally buttercream the top and sides. Decorate with coarse nuts and chocolate shards if you’re a little untidy!

Refrigerate until ready to serve, as this makes it much easier to cut.  May freeze.


3 responses

  1. This sounds and looks like it would be a perfect xmas treat!! Is it a specific occasion dessert? Could you serve with berries to counteract some of sweetness? I hope you were catering for a crowd and you two didnt eat it all!! Terrific!

    • Yes I think with berries would work very well, either between the layers or as a coulis type thing. I took it to a housewarming party so we didn’t have to scoff the lot ourselves, although apparently it freezes well too.

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