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Sans Rival Cake Recipe (Filipino Cashew Meringue Cake)

Sans rival is a Filipino cake made of buttercream, meringue and roasted cashews. It’s chewy, crunchy, sweet and salty in one glorious bite.

(If you love sans rival, you would love its cookie cousin, silvanas. Meringue cookie sandwiches filled with luxurious French buttercream and coated with cookie crumbs. Delicious. Check it out!)

top view of sans rival cake

Sans rival is not your ordinary, everyday cake. It’s usually reserved for special occasions and celebrations like Christmas, Easter or a loved one’s birthday.

I used to make sans rival with American buttercream (butter and confectioner’s sugar) but a reader mentioned that Nora Daza (a popular Filipino baker and chef) made her sans rival with French buttercream (egg yolks and butter). 

I tried that and never looked back. This sans rival cake is one of the most delicious cakes I make and is everyone’s favourite. 

With rich, creamy French buttercream sandwiched in between layers of chewy cashew meringue, sprinkled with crunchy, chopped cashews throughout, sans rival is a cake so sublime a single bite will make your tastebuds sing. 

Let’s get to it.

What is sans rival?

Sans rival literally means “without rival”. And how appropriate that this cake is called that.

It’s very much like, and can probably trace its origin back to, the French Dacquoise (yes, very fancy).

A dacquoise is a meringue made with finely chopped nuts folded into the mixture before baking. It’s then piped or spread into shapes and baked until crisp in a low temperature oven, then layered with buttercream,  whipped cream or even ice cream. 

It’s supposed to be crisp but sans rival (this version anyway) is more chewy than crisp. It gets its crunch from the roasted cashews.

In the Philippines, you can find the best sans rival cakes in Dumaguete, a city on Negros Island, in the southern Philippines. 

Although the sans rival from Goldilocks or Red Ribbon, which you can find nationwide, are pretty good too. 

Sans rival ingredients

piece of sans rival cake

To make this delicious Filipino cashew cake at home, you’ll need simple, easy-to-find pantry staples:

  • Eggs
  • Cream of tartar
  • Granulated sugar
  • Cashews
  • Unsalted butter
  • Vanilla extract
  • Salt

Useful tools when making this sans rival recipe

A stand mixer would make the process of making your cashew meringue and your buttercream that much quicker and easier. An electric handheld mixer works great too; it’ll just take a little more time.

Other things you’ll need include:

These are nice-to-haves, especially when you’re decorating your cake:

  • Piping bag
  • Piping tips
  • Offset spatula
  • Cake turntable
  • Bench scraper

How to make sans rival cake

There are 3 components to making this easy sans rival recipe: the roasted cashews, the meringue and, finally, the buttercream.

Roasted cashews

First, prep your cashews because you need it ready before you can make your meringue. 

Just toast your cashews on a skillet until they’re a light golden brown and fragrant.

Then roughly chop and set aside. You want it at room temperature.

You can use a food processor to make chopping easier but be careful not to chop the nuts too finely; you want to feel that crunch in every bite.

Cashew meringue

Next, you can work on your meringue.

1 PREP. Preheat your oven to 320F. Line a cookie sheet or baking sheet with parchment paper, lightly grease and set aside. 

It’s helpful to create a guide or template to help you pipe your meringue later. Simply trace 4 rectangles that’s roughly 8×5 inches each on your parchment paper and flip it over, then lightly grease.

sans rival template

If your rectangles don’t fit in one baking sheet, use 2 pans.

2 WHISK. Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or a handheld electric mixer), whisk egg whites on medium high speed until foamy.

foamy egg whites

3 SOFT PEAKS. Add cream of tartar and continue whisking until soft peaks. 

4 STIFF PEAKS. Gradually (about a teaspoon at a time) add the 1 cup sugar until stiff peaks form.

egg whites whipped to stiff peaks

5 FOLD. Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently fold your toasted cashews.

6 PIPE. Transfer your meringue to a piping bag and pipe 4 rectangles onto your prepared cookie sheet/s. Space them out evenly, at least 2 inches apart, and smoothen the tops.

7 BAKE. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the top turns a light golden brown. Once that happens, turn the oven off but leave the meringue in the oven with the door closed for another 20 minutes.

8 COOL. Take the meringue out of the oven and leave on the cookie sheet until it’s cool enough to handle (don’t leave on the pan for too long or they will become too brittle and break).

9 PEEL. Carefully peel the meringue off the parchment and trim the sides if needed so they’re even. Cool completely before assembly.

French buttercream

While your cookies are baking, you can work on your buttercream.

1 BOIL. Start by boiling water in a large pot, then bringing it to a simmer.

2 COMBINE. In a large stainless steel bowl (I like using the bowl of my stand mixer), whisk egg yolks, granulated sugar, vanilla extract and salt until combined.

3 COOK. Place bowl over simmering water and constantly stir and scrape the sides so the egg yolks don’t scramble. You need this egg sugar mixture to reach 155F/68C to make sure the yolks are cooked through.

measuring egg yolk temperature

4 WHISK. When it’s ready, transfer the bowl to your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk at high speed until it’s light and smooth (6-8 minutes). If you touch the bottom of your bowl it should not be hot anymore.

making French buttercream

5 BUTTER. With the mixer still on, start adding your butter one piece at a time and continue whisking until your buttercream is thick and creamy.

6 CHILL. If you’re not using the buttercream right away, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate. You’ll need to re-whip before using.

Assembling your sans rival

Now for the most exciting part, assembling your cake!

1 LAYER. Place one meringue layer on a cake stand, platter or turntable and spread about 1/4 of your buttercream evenly on it. 

French buttercream on meringue

2 SPRINKLE. Sprinkle with toasted cashews and continue to do the same thing for the rest of your layers. For your last one, make sure to put the smooth side up so your cake looks nice and even on top.

toasted cashews

3 DECORATE. Then you can go decorate! Frost your entire cake with buttercream and slap on the rest of your cashews on the sides or tops or both.

4 CHILL. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow the cake to set. Leave on the counter at room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving.

Meringue baking tips

Meringue is a little finicky to make but with lots of practice, you’ll be a meringue master in no time. Here are some of the things I’ve learned to make meringue successfully every time:

  • Make sure your egg whites are room temperature. They whip better and are more stable. It’s easier to separate the yolks from the whites when the eggs are cold though so what I do is separate the yolks and whites right when I take the eggs out of the fridge, place the whites in a bowl and leave them on the counter for about 30 minutes to bring them to room temperature.
  • Everything must be grease-free. You need to make sure that your bowl and whisk are dry, clean and oil-free. So it’s better to use glass, stainless steel, or ceramic bowls because plastic has a tendency to hide traces of oil in it.
  • Add sugar gradually. It takes a lot of restraint to only add a teaspoon of sugar at a time when you have a cup of sugar to add but this really makes all the difference. You want the sugar to dissolve into your meringue properly.
  • Don’t make meringue on a very humid day. Meringue has a tendency to absorb moisture so if it’s humid or rainy, your meringue has a bigger chance of falling apart.

Tips for making French buttercream

slice rival slice

Unlike American buttercream, which is made with butter and confectioner’s sugar, French buttercream is made with egg yolks so you have frosting that’s richer, smoother but not as sweet.

Traditionally, French buttercream is made by slowly pouring hot sugar syrup (238F/114C) while you whip the egg yolks.

I have two issues with this: one, I’m deathly scared of hot sugar syrup drizzling into a running mixer. And two, I have reservations about the syrup fully cooking the egg yolks.

My favourite frosting is Swiss meringue buttercream and I wondered if French buttercream can be made the same way, i.e.  cook the egg yolks with sugar in a double boiler then whip it with butter.

Happy to report that yes, it can be made using the same method! It’s not the classic, traditional way to make French buttercream but it works for me and I’m confident the yolks are cooked through. 

A few things to remember when making this cooked French buttercream:

  • Constantly stir your egg yolk-sugar mixture so it doesn’t turn into scrambled eggs.
  • Watch the temperature of the egg yolks — once you reach 155F / 68C the egg yolks should be fully cooked.
  • Make sure you use cubed, softened butter. Butter must easily give way when you gently press your thumb onto it. But it should not look greasy or oily like it’s about to melt.

Sans rival recipe FAQs

slice of sans rival cake

Sans rival has more steps than the usual cake but trust me, each step is worth it. Here are answers to some of your most frequently asked questions. 

Are sans rival and silvanas/sylvanas the same?


I like to think of silvanas as sans rival’s cookie-sized cousin because they are made of the same delicious ingredients. The flavour profile is similar, although silvanas get an extra dose of sweetness from their graham cracker crumb coating.

Can I make this a round cake?


You can definitely make this sans rival recipe any shape you like. I prefer a rectangle because I find it easier to frost. But if you want a round cake, you can do 6 or 8-inch round meringue layers.

Can I make sans rival ahead of time?


You can certainly make some of the components of this cake ahead of time.

French buttercream — up to a week ahead, kept in the fridge. You’ll need to re-whip before using. You can also freeze French buttercream up to 3 months. Make sure it’s in an airtight container and when you’re ready to use, bring down to the fridge to thaw and re-whip to get back that lovely consistency. 

Roasted cashews — toast your cashews up to a week before and keep in an airtight container so they don’t go stale.

I recommend making the meringue the same day you’re assembling your cake.

Once frosted, sans rival will keep up to 3 days in the fridge, although I know some bakers prefer placing it in the freezer.

Can I make the buttercream without a thermometer?


A thermometer is absolutely necessary in this recipe. It makes sure you cook the egg yolks through. You can easily get one for less than $15.

Why is my meringue puffy?


Don’t worry if you see your meringue puffing up in the oven. It will flatten and deflate is it cools.

What to do when meringue cracks


When peeling the meringue off the parchment paper, carefully lift it so it comes out in one piece. Don’t peel it to early, it will break. Or too late, it will definitely crumble.

Test it — lift one corner a little at a time. You’ll know when it’s ready because it should give pretty easily.

And if it cracks, no worries. You will cover it with buttercream and cashews and nobody will ever know! It will still be a very delicious cake.

Why is my meringue sticky?


Meringue absorbs the moisture in the air. So if you’re making meringue on a rainy or humid day, you most likely will have a very sticky meringue.

Leaving it in the oven to dry after baking is one way to combat stickiness. 

If they’re still sticky and unmanageable, try baking them for another 5-10 minutes at 200F. Watch that they don’t burn or turn too crispy.

To avoid this sticky situation altogether, avoid making meringue on a humid day.

How to make pistachio sans rival


Interested in making pistachio sans rival? Good news is you can use this exact same recipe, just replace the cashews with pistachios. It’s that easy. And equally delicious.

slice of sans rival cake

Sans Rival Cake Recipe (Filipino Cashew Meringue Cake)

Author: Jolina
Sans rival is a Filipino cake made of buttercream, meringue and roasted cashews. It’s chewy, crunchy, sweet and salty in one glorious bite.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Resting & Chilling Time 2 hrs 20 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 30 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Filipino
Servings 16 people
Calories 423 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

For the Cashew Meringue:

For the French Buttercream:

  • 10 pcs egg yolks from large eggs
  • cup granulated sugar + 2 tsp
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • 2 cups unsalted butter cubed and softened

Assembly

  • 2 cups cashews toasted and roughly chopped

Instructions
 

For the Cashew Meringue:

  • Preheat your oven to 320F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, lightly grease and set aside. See notes.
    sans rival template
  • Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or a handheld electric mixer), whisk 10 egg whites on medium high speed until foamy.
    foamy egg whites
  • Add ¾ teaspoon cream of tartar and continue whisking until soft peaks.
    foamy egg whites with cream of tartar
  • Gradually (about a teaspoon at a time) add the 1 cup sugar until stiff peaks form.
    egg whites whipped to stiff peaks
  • Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently fold your 1 cup toasted cashews.
    chopped cashews on meringue
  • Transfer your meringue to a piping bag and pipe 4 rectangles onto your prepared cookie sheet/s. Space out evenly, at least 2 inches apart, and smoothen the tops. See notes.
    cashew meringue no parchment paper
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the top turns a light golden brown. Once that happens, turn the oven off but leave the meringue in the oven with the door closed for another 20 minutes.
  • Take the meringue out of the oven and leave on the cookie sheet until it's cool enough to handle (don't leave on the pan for too long or they will become too brittle and break).
  • Carefully peel the meringue off the parchment and trim the sides if needed so they're even. Cool completely before assembly.

For the French Buttercream:

  • While your cookies are baking, you can work on your buttercream. Start by boiling water in a large pot, then bringing it to a simmer.
  • In a large stainless steel bowl (I like using the bowl of my stand mixer), whisk 10 egg yolks, ⅔ cup + 2 tsp granulated sugar, 1 tbsp vanilla extract and a pinch salt until combined.
    egg yolk sugar mixture
  • Place bowl over simmering water and constantly stir and scrape the sides so the egg yolks don’t scramble. You need this egg sugar mixture to reach 155F/68C to make sure the yolks are cooked through.
    measuring egg yolk temperature
  • When it’s ready, transfer the bowl to your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk at high speed until it’s light and smooth (6-8 minutes). If you touch the bottom of your bowl it should not be hot anymore.
    making French buttercream
  • With the mixer still on, start adding your butter one piece at a time and continue whisking until your buttercream is thick and creamy.
    add butter to egg yolk mixture
  • If you’re not using the buttercream right away, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate. You’ll need to re-whip before using.
    freshly made French buttercream

For the Assembly:

  • Place one meringue layer on a cake stand or platter or turntable and spread about ¼ of your buttercream evenly on it. 
    French buttercream on meringue
  • Sprinkle with toasted cashews and continue to do the same thing for the rest of your layers. For your last one, make sure to put the smooth side up so your cake looks nice and even on top.
    toasted cashews
  • Then you can go decorate! Frost your entire cake with buttercream and slap on the rest of your cashews on the sides or tops or both.
    top view of sans rival cake
  • Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow the cake to set. Leave on the counter at room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Video

Notes

  1. It’s helpful to create a guide or template to help you pipe your meringue later. Simply trace 4 rectangles that’s roughly 8×5 inches each on your parchment paper and flip it over, then lightly grease. If your rectangles don’t fit in one baking sheet, use 2 pans. 
  2. Instead of rectangles, you can also use round pans to make a round cake.
  3. Note that there’s enough meringue to make 4-6 layers; I just always make 4 fairly thick meringue pieces. You can make slightly thinner meringues to make a taller layer cake.
  4. See post for lots of baking tips and FAQs.

Nutrition

Calories: 423kcalCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 5gFat: 34gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 68mgSodium: 8mgPotassium: 193mgFiber: 1gSugar: 22gVitamin A: 718IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 17mgIron: 2mg

Nutritional information are estimates only.

Keyword Authentic, Celebration, Christmas, Easter, Holiday Baking, New Years’s Eve
Tried this recipe?Tag @iamtheunlikelybaker I’d love to see your creations!

Happy baking!

Did you make this sans rival cake recipe? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

Rate the Recipe




Maria

Sunday 12th of April 2020

Any chance I can cut down on the sugar without messing up the cake itself?

Jolina

Tuesday 14th of April 2020

Hi Maria. I've always used these ratios so I can't say for sure how it will affect the end result. What you can do is make small changes first and see what works best for you.

Malu

Tuesday 5th of September 2017

You gave me an idea for the butter cream piping for my next sans rival. Thank you. I, myself, started baking late in life and I'm still learning. When I baked my first sans rival I used the Nora Daza recipe so there was no leftover egg yolks. Nora's buttercream has egg yolks in it. Try it.

Jolina

Sunday 10th of September 2017

Hi Malu! My pleasure. Sans rival is one my all time favourites! I'm not familiar with Nora Daza's recipe but I will definitely check it out.

Maria

Wednesday 4th of May 2016

Oh my! This is so beautiful... Perfect really :) you make it seem so easy. Pinning it... Thanks for sharing :)

Jolina

Wednesday 4th of May 2016

Hi Maria! Thank you! It just needs a little planning ahead but yes, it's quite easy to do. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do! Let me know how goes :)

Cristina

Tuesday 3rd of May 2016

Wow, that piping is perfection! Definitely adding this to my 'to make' list, it sounds divine!

Jolina

Tuesday 3rd of May 2016

Hi Cristina! Thanks very much :) I was sweating buckets piping these lol. I do hope you try making this cake. It's a Filipino favourite and a personal favourite too. Have a good evening!

Carrie

Friday 29th of April 2016

This is beautiful and your piping is really pretty! Almost too good to eat...almost!

Jolina

Sunday 1st of May 2016

Thanks Carrie! And yes, there is no way I'm not eating this cake haha :) Happy Sunday!