Sunday, November 27, 2011

November Daring Bakers' Challenge - Filipino Desserts

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.

I love to try new things and learn about foods from around the world. So when the challenge was revealed this month, I was super excited.

The main dessert that Catherine challenged us to make was the Sans Rival, literally translating to "without rival" - I mean, it's so good, even the name tells us it's the best! The dessert is made by layering crispy, nut-flavored meringues with rich French buttercream. Umm... yes please!

Having never heard of the dessert prior to seeing the challenge, I did a little bit of online digging, just to see other pictures, learn as much as I could, and to compare recipes - I find that doing so helps me feel more comfortable when making something so completely new. After a few quick searches, I found a very similar recipe that looked gorgeous, and just happened to be on the blog of a fellow Daring Baker, Oggi. The only difference, as far as I could tell, was the number of eggs called for. The challenge recipe called for ten egg whites and five egg yolks, leaving the baker with a surplus of five yolks. Oggi's recipe called for five whites and five yolks - nice and even! So, while making sure to use the challenge recipe as inspiration, I followed Oggi's measurements so as not to have to worry about any extra ingredients.

The first step, no matter which recipe you follow, is to separate the eggs.

Then the two separate components have to be prepared. I began with the French buttercream, as it needed to be cooled at a couple different points during the preparation. The egg yolks were transferred to the bowl of my stand mixer, and I began to prepare a syrup of sugar and water, boiling it until it reached about 235 degrees.

Then, with the mixer on high, the syrup was slowly and carefully poured down the side of the mixer bowl to mix in with the whipping yolks.

(notice I stressed slow and careful. If you go to quickly, you wind up with scrambled eggs. Which is not the idea here. So go slowly and carefully.)

The mixer then continued to do its thing for another 15 minutes, at which point the mixture looked something like this:

And it tasted kind of like marshmallow cream. Yum. This was transferred to a bowl and set in the fridge to cool for a while.

Interestingly enough, when it came out of the fridge a couple of hours later, it looked like this:

All those little bubbles... kinda cool. And it still tasted like marshmallow cream. What? Don't you taste along the way?

Anyway, in order to turn that bowl of deliciousness into a rich French buttercream, there was one additional ingredient required. Butter. Which was beaten until totally fluffy in the mixer.

And then mixed in with the yolk-syrup-deliciousness. Then the whole thing was put back into the fridge to wait for the meringues to be ready.

Which was actually what I was working on while the yolk-syrup-deliciousness was in the fridge the first time.

After thoroughly cleaning out the mixer bowl from the yolks, into the bowl went the whites.

A few minutes whisked together at high speed, a little sugar and voila!

I folded some finely ground pecans into the finished meringue, and began to create my shapes. Catherine's recipe called for baking the meringue in 9 inch cake pans, covered in parchment and well coated with cooking spray. But, given how rich everyone said that the dessert was (and the fact that I only have two 9 inch round cake pans and was out of parchment paper), I decided to improvise. I thought that making individual sized Sans Rivals might be a fun idea, so I began to pipe little, flat rounds of the meringue.

As you can see, I did also make four slightly bigger rounds - I thought I would make a half-sized version, as well, in addition to the personal sized ones... I had plenty of meringue, so I figured why not.

The flat little nutty meringues baked up quickly and beautifully.

And I was now ready to build the dessert!

I started with the mini ones, as they were planned to be the dessert for our family dinner that evening.

With clean hands, I began the layering process.

Mini meringue, buttercream, another mini meringue, more buttercream, yet another mini meringue, a decorative pipe of buttercream on top, and a pecan half for decorative fun.

I chose to do only three layers of meringue for the little guys to make them easier to eat - I thought of them as Sans Rival petit fours, and thus didn't want them too tall to be able to bite into.

They turned out great, and made a fun little dessert to dinner that night!

We all enjoyed it, and thought that the combination of flavors and textures was fantastic. And most of us agreed that the single serving size, due to the richness of the buttercream, was perfect. It shouldn't surprise you that little miss was the one asking for seconds.

I did also construct the half size Sans Rival with the four five-inch meringue circles that I'd prepared. I tried to prepare it using the traditional (as described in the recipes) presentation, using four layers of meringue and coating the outside with crushed nuts (again, pecans for us).

I thought the dessert made a beautiful presentation in full, and it was just as yummy, if not more so, the second time around. I actually think that it tasted better after having sat in the fridge for a day.

And the layers of crispy and rich deliciousness were just super fun to eat.

In addition to the Sans Rival recipe that Catherine provided to us, she also presented two other recipes, as optional for this challenge. One (the Bibingka) required ingredients and tools that I just don't have at this time. The other, though, I found to be intriguing, and it looked simple, so I thought I would give it a shot. It was for salted eggs.

Salted eggs are basically eggs preserved in brine. That's it. Raw eggs in a brine solution. Turns out this is actually quite common, no matter how odd it seemed to me upon reading it. So I just had to give it a shot.

I took out a 16 ounce canning jar and found that three eggs fit perfectly in it.

The brine solution was easy - one part salt to four parts water (I went with 1/3 cup salt and 1 1/3 cups water - it was the amount of water that worked for my jar once the eggs were in it. Yes, I measured it out with clean water first...), with a few peppercorns added to the pot as well. The recipe actually called for bourbon or whiskey, too, but I skipped the booze.

Once the brine solution was boiled and cooled, I strained it into my jar of eggs.

I then put the lid on the jar and... let it sit. For two weeks. On the counter. I looked at it daily. With curiosity, mostly. Daddy looked at it with something a little closer to wariness or fear... or something between the two...

After two weeks, I figured I might as well try the eggs. Apparently the most common way to prepare the eggs for eating after brining them is to hard boil them. So that is what I did.

The results were... interesting. The eggs cooked up a little oddly, with the whites not feeling quite as firm as the hard boiled eggs I usually make (ie: ones that haven't sat for two weeks in a salt bath...), but the yolks seemed almost overcooked, at least the outer portion of them did.

As for the taste? Well, they tasted like salty eggs! Even through the shell, the brine really did permeate the entire egg, adding the saltiness to both the white and the yolk. It seemed like an interesting science experiment, but not one I am likely to repeat.

The Sans Rival, on the other hand, was fantastic, and will be made again for a fun occasion. I have included here the recipe that I used, with hints from the challenge presentation.

Catherine, thank you so much for sharing these new recipes with us and for being such a wonderful host!

To see some of the beautiful creations baked up in the kitchen this month, check them out here.

Sans Rival
(from Oggi)

5 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups chopped cashews or almonds (or pecans!)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat the egg whites until stiff. Add the sugar gradually, continuing to beat. Fold in the nuts and vanilla. Pipe the whites onto parchment paper in the desired shapes, or divide the mixture into 4 or 5 very thin rounds. Bake the meringues at 350 degrees until golden brown. Turn the oven off and let them sit in the cooling oven until cool (about two hours total).

French Buttercream
1/4 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
5 egg yolks
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature

Boil water and sugar together until it spins a thread (about 235 degrees on a candy/deep fry thermometer). In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks on high speed. Slowly and carefully pour the mixture over well beaten egg yolks, with the mixer continuing to mix on high. Continue to beat until thick (about 15 minutes). Transfer the mixture to a bowl and chill in the fridge for an hour.
Cream the room temperature butter, then add the well chilled egg mixture. Beat well to combine fully.

Final Assembly
Prepared meringue layers
Prepared French Buttercream
1/2 cup chopped nuts (same nuts as used in meringue)

Set the bottom meringue on a board or platter (the serving dish works fine!). Spread a thin layer of buttercream, then top with another meringue. Repeat with all your layers, spreading a thin layer of buttercream on each meringue layer. Top the final layer with buttercream, and spread more buttercream over the sides. Decorate with the chopped nuts, either pressing them into the sides or sprinkling them all over the cake.
Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve. It also freezes very well.



  1. Gorgeous Sans Rival! Your step by steps with the buttercream are great! You really took on the challenge by making the eggs!

  2. Mmmm - your cake looks delicious! I ended up making mini ones too, but by accident rather than design. I wasn't brave enough to try the salted eggs, but it's interesting to read about yours! Very daring :o)

  3. Great job with the sans rival and the salted eggs! I think the mini ones you made are the perfect size too, and with pecans, yum!

  4. Shelley those little baby Sans Rivals are so cute! I could eat one right now.

  5. I love your bite-sized version! Sometimes these desserts can be so rich that only a bite or two are necessary to get that little bit of a sweet treat. Nice job on the challenge!

  6. Beautiful! I love the bite-sized version - you were so creative and I love the way you topped it with a pecan. Great job on the challenge. Thanks for sharing. :)

  7. Great job! I love your personal sized Sans Rival cakes! And I think I would look at salty eggs on the counter with the same trepidation as your husband, so awesome job trying those!

  8. Love your mini version of the Sans Rival. I think you should give the bibingka a try esp since you have been daring enough to go for the salted eggs :)

  9. Very pretty! The cake certainly is sweet but quite delicious and the petit fours are perfect!

  10. I also liked the cake even better after it sat overnight - but honestly I could have just eaten all the icing out of the bowl and called it a day!! I love the mini cakes - next time I'm definitely doing that!

  11. Thank you for the step by step Shelly
    I can see where I went wrong now. your mini cakes look gorgous.Great job on this challenge as always

  12. Your minis look amazing! So cute. I didn't try the salted eggs, and probably won't based on your review.

  13. Such beautiful Sans Rivals. I love the mini ones! Your process photos are really helpful; I see now that I did go wrong with my buttercream, but luckily it turned out okay in the end. (I think!)

  14. I like your minis. I think Sans Rival is so rich that one mini-cake is enough :-)

  15. You must know, by now, how much I love mini versions of the recipes, and your mini Sans Rival are so cute and delicious looking! You were so brave to try the salted eggs! As always, you did a fantastic job on the challenge!

  16. I like the mini version but the bigger one looks gorgeous! Great job!

  17. So beautifully done, Shelley. Love the baby cke Sans Rivals, and the larger one is a showstopper! Those eggss look, well..intriguing? We go out of our way to keep the yolks from turning greenish with sulphur, but I guess it's a good thing when they're brined? Wish I could have squeezed the Sans Rival in..but it was impossible..which I hated to admit since I always find a way. Oh, well..will still try the Sans Rival..maybe for New Years!

  18. Shelley, I love the small ones which we call silvanas. Great job on the challenge!

    Thank you for the linkie and I'm glad the recipe worked.:)


Related Posts with Thumbnails