I like to be challenged, but the challenges I enjoy the most are the ones I choose to take on and can be in control of.  Obviously, I cannot always be in control as things are thrown at us without a warning everyday.  We faces challenges in work and in relationships.  We face creative challenges where we need to determine a solution for a problem.

But I love a challenge in the kitchen.  I consider myself to be a decent cook and baker and usually I am satisfied with making something predictable with which I am fairly certain what the end result will be.  This is not why I joined the Daring Kitchen‘s Daring Bakers Challenges.  I joined this group to discover delicacies and ingredients that I have never purchased or used before.  I joined this group so that I would be pushed beyond my baking comfort into frustration, possibly some tears and hopefully some triumphs.

The Daring Bakers is a group of individuals who are challenged with a new recipe each month and then they post about the month’s challenge on the same day.  I am anxious to see how much my experience varied from others’ experiences.

My first challenge was to create a Sans Rival cake.  This cake originated in France but is most commonly known as a popular dessert in the Philippines.  The cake is a dacquoise which is a cake made of layers of some type of nut meringue, in this case cashew and then smeared with a decadent French buttercream.

What I learned by completing this challenge:

-separating (this many) eggs into yolks and whites can make you want to scream

-meringues should not be feared, they are not so scary afterall

-just because something contains 15 eggs and 2 1/2 sticks of butter does not mean it will necessarily taste rich

-I need cake decorating lessons, I can’t decorate a cake to save my life

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.

What is your latest baking challenge that you faced?

Sans Rival

by Mercedes Porter


    For the cake

    • 10 large egg whites, room temp
    • 1 cup (8 oz) white granulated sugar
    • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
    • ¼ cup (2/3 oz) Dutch processed cocoa (optional and not traditional)
    • 2 cups (8½ oz) chopped, toasted cashews

    For the frosting

    • 5 large egg yolks, room temperature
    • 1 cup (8 oz) white granulated sugar
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 1¼ cup (2½ sticks) (10 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
    • Optional Flavorings: 2 oz (55 gm) unsweetened chocolate, melted


    For the cake

    Preheat oven to moderate 325°

    Line 2-4 round cake pan bottoms (of the same size) with parchment paper and butter and flour the sides really well.

    In a large 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.)

    Fold in nuts, reserving enough to use for decoration.

    Divide meringue into four equal parts. Spread into pans, evenly to edges. If doing batches, use fresh parchment paper and cooled pans for each batch.

    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.

    For the frosting

    Put the egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Beat at high speed until the yolks have doubled in volume and are a lemon yellow.

    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 235°F/112°C (or thread stage).

    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. 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 flavoring (melted chocolate) after you beat in the butter. Refrigerate the buttercream for at least an hour, and whip it smooth just before you use it.


    Set bottom meringue on cake board or plate with a dab of buttercream 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. It is easier to cut cold. May freeze.

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    (Recipe from Catherine of Munchie Musings)

    beat egg whites until foamy

    sprinkle with cream of tartar, sugar and cocoa powder and beat until stiff, shiny peaks form

    fold in finely ground cashews

    divide meringue into 4 equal parts and spread into pans


    for the buttercream, beat egg yolks until doubled in volume and lemon yellow

    prepare sugar/water syrup

    pour syrup into bowl with beaten egg yolks, then beat on high until mixture is room temperature

    add butter and melted chocolate

    refrigerate buttercream for an hour and then frost the cake

    decorate cake with remaining cashews

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    6 Comments ( Reply )

    1. Jenn B-H
      Nov 27, 2011 @ 5:31 pm

      That certainly looks rich! I have yet to taste a dacquoise but have been told it is one of the only desserts that truly stands up to being a dessert as it has no nutritional value. I did hear about a pumpkin one I’d be all over.

      Congrats on conquering this feat. And it looks delicious! You don’t give yourself enough decorating credit. Happy baking and hope you had a great Thanksgiving!


      • Mercedes
        Nov 28, 2011 @ 7:53 pm

        Thanks Jennifer! It was a good challenge and I agree, there is probably no nutritional value to this dessert! Ooh a pumpkin dacquoise does sound worth trying! I hope you had a good Thanksgiving as well!


    2. emily (a nutritionist eats)
      Nov 27, 2011 @ 7:13 pm

      That is a stunning dessert!!!


    3. Shannon (Healthiful Balance)
      Nov 29, 2011 @ 10:19 am

      Wowzers that looks awesome!!! 🙂


      • Mercedes
        Nov 29, 2011 @ 11:59 am

        Thank you Shannon! It was worth the effort!


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