It has been about five years since I graduated from college for baking and pastry arts. During the time I was in school, I learned an enormous amount about classic french desserts, components, and techniques. After I had finished pastry school, family friends and family members would ask me if I knew how to make sans rival. More recently I’ve had people asking me on instagram if I knew how to make it/how to do it. At first I said no, because I didn’t know what a sans rival was. It’s a filipino dessert, but the name is french for “without rival”.
I did some research. It turns out that sans rival is composed of a meringue-based nut cookie, filled with french buttercream, and coated with nuts or cookie crumbs. The meringue-based cookie is something I’ve made 1000s of times, either with almonds, or hazelnuts, and it is called a dacquoise. In this case, it’s a cashew dacquoise. After more research into the buttercream, I realized the French buttercream is almost exactly like the Italian meringue buttercream (which is my choice of buttercream for all my custom cakes), except with the simple swap of egg yolks instead of egg whites. This is perfect, because after making a meringue-based cookie, the last thing you want to do is create a meringue-based buttercream, and have an abundance of egg yolks (been there, done that…way too many times. Ice cream anyone?). The other funny thing about french buttercream is that I’ve also made the base 1000 times, it’s a base of egg yolks with a hot sugar syrup, whipped to pale, fluffy, velvety goodness, and called a pâte à bombe, and it is the perfect base for mousse.
Silvanas/sylvanas are a snack form of the sans rival cake, instead of the full layered cake, it is two cookies sandwiched with a thick layer of buttercream, coated in more buttercream, and dipped in cookies or ground nuts. To make the ube versions, an ube halaya recipe can be found here — I used half of the original recipe to make 12 silvanas and a san rival in replacement of buttercream. Check out the video tutorial for visuals!
This recipe makes enough for 24 cookies, or 12 silvanas. To make a 3 layer Sans Rival, reduce the recipe by half and pipe into 7-8″ circles
90g (1 cup) finely ground cashews
110g (1 cup) icing sugar
21g (2 tbsp) cake flour
100g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
3 egg whites
- Preheat the oven to 300F
- Sift and whisk (or blitz in a food processor) the ground cashews, icing sugar, and cake flour.
- In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foamy stage, and start to gradually rain the sugar into the egg whites. Whip the egg whites and sugar for about 6-8 minutes or until it reaches stiff peaks, and the sugar is dissolved (you can check this by rubbing a little meringue between your fingers to see if it is smooth.
- Fold the meringue into the flours in thirds, thoroughly folding in the first third before adding the second and third. Fold until just fully combined — do not over-fold.
- Pipe onto stencilled trays, using a piping bag and a #3 or #4 plain tip.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let it cool completely before filling with buttercream.
This recipe makes enough for 12 sylvanas
3 egg yolks
100g (1/2 cup) sugar
30g (2 tbsp) water
115g (1/2 cup) butter, cut into 1×1″ cubes
- Place the egg yolks into a stand mixer with a whisk attachment or a medium bowl with a hand mixer.
- Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Using a candy thermometer, bring it to 117C.
- Whip the egg whites until pale and frothy, and pour the hot sugar syrup in (be careful to lower the speed of your mixer to avoid hot sugar splashes).
- Whip on medium/high speed until the mixture is pale and fluffy, and the mixing bowl is cool to the touch.
- Lower the speed of the mixture to medium/low, add in a few cubes of butter at a time, until all the butter is in. Bring the speed back up to high speed, and mix until the buttercream is fully homogenous. Use to assemble the sylvanas, sans rival, or use on cakes or cupcakes.