The Daring Bakers November 2011 Challenge: Chocolate Hazelnut Sans Rival
On reading this title I expect you are thinking ‘what on earth is a Sans Rival?’ If so, then rest assured I was thinking the exact same thing when I first heard about this challenge. It turns out that Sans Rival is a delicious layered meringue cake comprising of four nutty layers of meringue, sandwiched together with a French buttercream. ‘Sans’ means ‘without’ in French, so I assume this dessert is so good that it is to be considered without rivals – as in it beats all others!
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. This month I stuck to just the Sans Rival cake.
We were having some relatives round for dinner and so I thought this cake would make the ideal dessert. It’s traditionally made with ground cashew nuts, but I chose to use hazelnuts instead and to add melted dark chocolate to by French buttercream as I adore the combination of chocolate and hazelnuts together. On assembling the dessert I also added a little raspberry jam between each layer, which made for a delicious trinity of flavours. I was especially delighted as this dessert was also naturally gluten free – hurrah.
I had high hopes for this dessert and it sounded simple enough. However, for some reason my meringue layers just refused to go crisp in the oven. They were meant to be baked for 30minutes, after which time they were nicely golden on top, but when I gave them a prod they were still sticky and gooey. I gave them another 20 minutes by which time they had developed a crisp outer crust. ‘Good’ I thought and took them out to cool. As they cooled they turned back to being soft and a little gooey. Back into the oven they went. This continued for 2 hours by which time I had had enough and decided they would just have to stay as they were.
Thankfully the French buttercream came together quickly and easily and resulted in a gorgeously silky dark chocolate cream that tasted divine. I could have (and did) eaten it by the spoonful. I really should make the effort to make this more often for other cakes as it’s just incredible, so smooth and creamy.
When it came to serving the dessert later that evening, my meringue layers had turned into something resembling more nougat than meringue. It was soft, gooey and chewy and actually made for a lovely tasting dessert with the chocolate and raspberry filling, but was definitely not the crisp layers it should have been.
Although my meringue layers were a disappointment the flavours of the desert itself more than made up for it. There was even one dinner guest who stole a forkful off someone else’s plate after she had finished her own! In summary, it tasted good, but after the stress of the meringue layers I probably wouldn’t make it again (well not this particular meringue recipe anyway). I was also disappointed in my presentation but the meringue just wasn’t playing ball. I halved the recipe below and baked a 6.5inch cake.
Click here to see the blogroll of other Daring Bakers Sans Rival Cakes
10 large egg whites, room temperature
225g caster sugar
1 tsp cream of tartar
20g cocoa powder (optional and not traditional – I left this out)
240g roughly ground, toasted cashews (I used hazelnuts)
Note: 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 160C.
2. Line cake pan bottoms (9inch/23cm) 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 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.
5 large egg yolks, room temperature
225g caster sugar
285g unsalted butter, room temperature
55g dark chocolate, melted
1 tbsp hazelnut liqueur (my addition)
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 112C (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. Add the hazelnut liqueur. 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 the melted chocolate and beat well. Refrigerate the buttercream for at least an hour, and whip it smooth just before you use it.
4 tbsp raspberry Jam (my addition)
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. Refrigerate until ready to serve. I also added a thin spreading of raspberry jam between each layer.