Sans Rival is a rich, buttery and nutty cake (or dessert) made with crisp layers of cashewnut meringue and filled with French buttercream. Sounds decadent enough? It was Al from work who introduced me to this dessert, and as she didn't really know the exact name, she merely referred to it as Sandflower cake, or San something. I totally fell in love with it at first bite. The combination of silky buttercream, the light and crispy meringue and scattering of chopped cashews was just amazing. The next thing I did was to google Philippines, san, cashew and cake, and to my delight and excitement, I discovered the Sans Rival, which literally means "without rival", and it is indeed true to its name.
After sifting through the various recipes available on the internet, I finally settled on this one below that comes from a Filipino cookbook. The original recipe uses rum in the buttercream, though I think I might omit it next time and substitute with vanilla instead. Although the recipe seems fairly simple, it is a multi-step process that involves cooling, chilling and assembly time. The tricky part came down to slicing the actual Sans Rival, as the meringue is so brittle that it takes a bit of patience and skill in cutting it into neat slices without leaving too many crumbs on the plate. After a series of "shattered" meringues, I found that the best way was to cut it straight down in one swift stroke using a serrated knife. I brought this dessert to a party and I think it was quite well received by everyone (sans the kids). Guess I'll have to wait for the next party before I make this again, although I did read somewhere that it freezes well. I'd better start clearing out some space in my freezer then.
Adapted from Nora Daza
6 egg whites
¾ cup sugar
1 1/2 cups roasted unsalted cashew nuts, chopped finely
1 tsp vanilla extract
Extra 1/2 cup chopped cashewnuts set aside for decoration
Grease and flour three 14” x 10” cookie sheets. Set aside. Beat egg whites until soft peaks are formed. Gradually add the sugar, beating well after each addition. Continue beating until egg whites are very stiff. Fold in the 1 1/2 cups chopped cashew nuts and vanilla. Spread thinly in prepared pans. Bake at 160C/300F for 20-30 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Turn off oven and leave the wafers in the oven for 2-3 hours until cool. They will turn crisp by then. Gently loosen and slide wafers to a flat surface. Trim off the uneven edges with a serrated knife.
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
6 egg yolks
1 1/4 cup / 300g unsalted butter
1-2 tbsp rum (optional)
Boil sugar and water until it reaches the soft ball stage, or it spins a thread. Meanwhile, beat egg yolks until thick and pale. Pour hot syrup to egg yolks in thin streams while beating on medium speed until the mixture thickens. Transfer to a bowl and chill in the fridge.
Cream the butter with a mixer. Blend in the chilled egg yolk mixture and rum (if used).
Turn the wafers over (smooth-side up). Spread a thin layer of cream over the wafer and place the next wafer on top. Spread the cream and repeat with the next wafer. Cover all over with remaining cream. Sprinkle top with extra chopped cashew nuts. Chill well before slicing and serving.