For me, no other Filipino dessert screams sumptuous than sans rival. Layers of crispy cashew meringue wafers are sandwiched between French buttercream and topped with more roasted cashews.
As a kid, we used to enjoy Sans Rival only on special occasions.
Cashew nuts weren’t cheap; therefore Sans Rival was pricey.
I remember we would order from a baker in the neighborhood, and it would arrive frozen, wrapped in layers of aluminum foil, in a homemade cardboard box.
We would then excitedly open it and receive a small slice, which we would savor.
I can still remember the crispiness of the cashew meringue, the sweetness of the buttercream, and the over-all delight I felt whenever I had a piece.
It was a slice of heaven.
As time passed, we had more cafes popping up in Bacolod. They all offered delicious cakes and pastries, including the Sans Rival, but none equaled the Sans Rival of my childhood.
What is Sans Rival?
Literally, “sans rival” is “without rival” in French. This delectable dessert was said to have been brought by Filipino housewives who studied French cooking in France in the 1920’s.
The process to preparing the cashew meringue is similar to the French Dacquiose (which is simply a nut meringue.)
Sans Rival is not difficult to prepare, but as with all meringues, you have to take care that your bowl is grease-free and the egg whites are at room temperature.
The recipe for the cashew meringue wafers is based on Nora Daza’s recipe in her cookbook, Let’s Cook with Nora, and the French Buttercream from Alice Medrich.
A note on cashew nuts:
Roasted, unsalted cashew nuts give the best flavor to the Sans Rival.
If you cannot find roasted, unsalted cashew nuts in the grocery, grab a pack of raw cashew nuts and roast it yourself.
I roast my cashew nuts in the microwave, as it does the job done quicker than the oven.
To do so, place then nuts in a single layer in a plate and microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes. Give a stir then microwave again on HIGH for one-minute intervals (stirring in between) until fragrant and slightly brown.
You may also roast the nuts in the oven, on the stove-top or toaster oven. You have a lot of different ways to get those slightly brown, fragrant nuts.
Let’s get started
First, prepare your baking pans or cookie sheets.
Line 3 baking pans or cookie sheets with parchment paper and draw 6 rectangles each measuring 10 x 6 inches (25.5 x 15cm) or 4 8-in (20cm) round circles (trace your cake pan!) Then place the parchment paper with the patterns facing down (so you won’t get the lead from the pencil on you meringues).
Don’t forget to GREASE the parchment paper!!! You will want your meringue to come off easily.
I’ve forgotten to do so in the past, and I ended up with meringue crumbs. Not a happy memory!
Preheat oven to 300°F/150°C.
Then, we will make the cashew meringue.
Chop the roasted cashews, but not too fine. I suggest that you have a mix of finely chopped and roughly chopped cashew nuts.
A food processor will chop the cashew nuts the fastest, so if you have one, use it. Otherwise, a knife will do the job as well.
Wipe your bowl with a paper towel and some white vinegar to remove any last traces of grease.
Start by beating the egg whites on medium speed with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form.
Gradually add the granulated sugar and increase the speed to high. Continue beating until stiff.
Gently fold in the chopped cashew nuts and vanilla.
Divide equally among your pans. Spread the meringue thinly with an offset spatula.
Bake for 40 minutes, rotating the pans every 10 minutes.
The meringue wafers should be golden brown.
Turn off the oven and crack open the door. Let the meringue wafers cool in the oven so that they will retain their crispiness.
Time to decorate the Sans Rival!
Prepare your buttercream. See here for the detailed instructions.
Once the meringue wafers are cool, remove them from the parchment paper. Be gentle. You don’t want to break them, but if you do, don’t fret. The buttercream will cover it!
I always manage to get cracks on one or two wafers!!
On your serving plate or a cake board, spread a thin layer of buttercream. Place the first wafer. Top with more buttercream and spread.
Don’t use too much force or the meringue wafer below might crack.
Continue doing so until all the layers are stacked up.
Cover the cake with the rest of the buttercream, and decorate with more roasted cashew nuts.
Freeze for at least 2 hours before serving.
I like to pack the entire cake into 2 layers of foil and then place in the freezer.
This also extends the shelf life of the cake as it is so rich you wouldn’t want to eat a lot each time.
Enjoy your Sans Rival!
Pin here for future reference: