Sans Rival, the daring bakers November challenge


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! And for those of us who wanted to try an additional Filipino dessert, Catherine also gave us a bonus recipe for Bibingka which comes from her friend Jun of Jun-blog.

“Sans rival” means “without rival” and any Filipino will argue with you that this is true. Although it’s one of the most popular desserts in the Philippines, its origins are certainly French. In the 1920’s to 30’s there were many Filipinos who went abroad to study. A good number went to France and learned many French cooking techniques which they then brought home. A Sans Rival is made with layers of dacquoise, typically using crushed cashews, with very rich French buttercream frosting. The dacquoise is allowed to bake and dry to a crispy layer so that there is the crunch of pastry and nuts with the buttery, silky frosting. In this regard, a Sans Rival is not very different from some of our past challenges (for us old timers).

I was tempted to title this post “third time’s the charm” or to add a new category called disasters and make this post my first listing in it.

My first attempt was a complete disaster!It didn’t help that I attempted it the day before my daughter’s birthday.I was feeling extra confident and everything was going fine until I lost all the meringue stiff peaks when I added the coco and got soup instead of meringue. No matter how much beating it won’t work!I thought it couldn’t be saved so I started over with half the recipe.( In case you are keeping count, that is 15 eggs so far, 15 egg yolks in the freezer, 10 egg whites wasted and 5 hoping to become meringue).I decided not to add the coco this time and everything went great but I spread the meringe into circles but apparently they were too wide, as it turned out too thin and when I tried to take it off the parchment it broke into pieces.

Next came the buttercream, I had only recently bought a candy thermometer and was eager to use it only to discover the batteries that came with it were rusty and didn’t work. I  went ahead anyway, I followed the recipe except for I think I didn’t allow the syrup egg mixture to cool enough before adding the butter.As a result I got another soup that wouldn’t thicken even after cooling.(Keeping with the egg count that’s 10 egg yolks in the freezer)

Looking at the buttercream and the broken meringue I wasn’t about to throw it out again.I mixed the broken meringue with buttercream and added ground almonds and put them back in the fridge. The next day I decided to roll them into balls, the mix was a little soft so I added some crumbled plain animal cookies I had around.

The verdict: if I don’t make san rival ever again, I know I will make these balls again for sure. They were out of this world!

Still feeling disappointed I didn’t get to make the actual dessert I decided to give it one last go. My parents were coming for a visit and I thought why not. So 10 eggs later, meringue was great, baked beautifully. I was feeling my confidence getting restored until I realized I used wax paper instead of parchment and getting the meringue off was a nightmare.

By this point I lost the courage to try buttercream again and the fact that I found it too sweet and too rich the first time I made it I decided to make the san rival with pastry cream instead.

The verdict: Dad told me : if this recipe is not on your blog yet, you need to get it there as soon as possible

Oh and so far that leaves me with 16 (I used 4 of the second 10 to make the pastry cream)egg yolks in the fridge, any suggestions?

San rival


10 large egg whites, room temp

1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) white granulated sugar

1 teaspoon (5 ml) (3 gm) cream of tartar

¼ cup (60 ml) (20 gm) (2/3 oz) Dutch processed cocoa (optional and not traditional)

2 cups (480 ml) (240 gm) (8½ oz) chopped, toasted almonds



You will need four layers which will mean that you might have to bake in two batches. Be sure to use fresh parchment paper and cooled pans for each batch.

1. Preheat oven to moderate 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3.

2. Line cake pan bottoms with parchment paper and butter and flour the sides really well.

3. In a large clean, dry glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites on medium until foamy (2 mins.). Sprinkle with cream of tartar. 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 nuts, reserving enough to use for decoration.

(Note : Divide the nuts in half,the more finely ground for folding into meringue. The coarsely ground for is decoration of finished cake.)

5. Divide meringue into four equal parts. Spread in pans, evenly to edges. If doing batches, use fresh parchment paper and cooled pans for each batch.

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:

5 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) white granulated sugar
1/4 cup (60 ml) water
1¼ cup (300 ml) (2½ sticks) (285 gm) (10 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
Optional Flavorings:

2 oz (55 gm) unsweetened chocolate, melted,

or 1½ teaspoon (7 ½ ml) almond extract,

or 1½ teaspoon (7 ½ ml) vanilla extract, or any flavor you like


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 235°F/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 as the very hot syrup could burn you if it splashes from the beaters. Continue beating on high until the mixture is ROOM TEMPERATURE (about 15 mins). Still on high, beat in the soft, room temperature butter a tablespoon at a time. Add flavoring after you beat in the butter. 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 reserved nuts.

pastry cream:

2 1/2 cups milk

2 eggs

4 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons corn starch

2 teaspoons vanilla

In a pot add the milk and sugar and heat while stiring until the milk is bubbling on the edges but not boiling

Whisk the eggs,yolks, vanilla, flour, cornstarch until combined

add the milk little by little to the egg mixture while whisking (we are doing this to warm the eggs)

put the mix back in the pot and cook on low heat while whisking until it thickens.

Sprinkle gelatine over the water and leave it for 10 minutes

take a little of the pastry cream and whisk it with the gelatine until completely homogenous

Add the gelatine cream mix back to the pastry cream and whisk


line a bowl or pan shaped like your meringue withplastic wrap

Put a layer of pastry cream then a layer of meringue and repeat till all your meringue layers are done

Finish with a layer of cream

Wrap with plastic wrap and cool in the fridge for 4 hours ar least (I left it over night)

Decorate with reserved nuts.