Literally translating to “without rival”, this crunchy, creamy dessert is one heck of a showstopper at any special occasion, and is bound to disappear in a matter of hours. Imagine layers of luscious, rich French buttercream interspersed with cocoa powder, crisp and sweet meringues and plenty of chopped nuts like cashews to add texture to this delectable cake that takes a little bit more time and effort, but is absolutely worth it once it’s done. Keep it chilled well before serving so that it slices up easily the high butter content makes it prone to melting down. For an added touch of decadence, top your sans rival with chocolate shavings, or drizzle some melted chocolate on top to complement the optional cocoa powder. It’s so luxurious in the mouth that a little bit goes a long way with a cup of coffee, but beware! The silky sweetness and crunch of sans rival is definitely addictive.
Sans Rival Recipe
- 10 large egg whites at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 cups 1 cup chopped and 1 cup more finely ground toasted cashews
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder optional for chocolate version
- French Buttercream:
- 5 egg yolks
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 1/4 cup 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- Optional flavoring:
- 2 oz. unsweetened melted bakers chocolate
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract or any other flavoring you prefer.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare four 9-inch pans by greasing them and adding parchment paper to them. Set aside.
- In a bowl, whip the egg whites until they become frothy. Add in the cream of tartar and continue to beat. Gradually (1 to 2 tablespoons at a time) add in the sugar and continue to beat until all of the sugar is incorporated and the egg whites are shiny and form stiff peaks.
- Fold in the 1 cup of finely ground cashews and divide the meringue into the 4 pans equally. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown (mine were done after about 23 minutes).
- While the meringues are still warm, remove them from the pans and parchment paper because the paper can be more difficult to remove once cooled.
- When the meringues are fully cooled, line them up on top of one another to trim the edges evenly. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, prepare the French buttercream. Beat the egg yolks until they thicken and double in volume.
- Heat the sugar and water until the mixture reaches 235 degrees F (or thread stage). Keeping the mixer on high, slowly pour in the sugar mixture to the egg yolks.
- Be sure to continuously beat so that the egg yolks do not cook and be careful not to burn yourself as well. I had to make Dave come and help me during this stage (he held the mixer while I poured the sugar in).
- Once the sugar mixture is completely incorporated, continue beating on high speed for about 15 minutes, or until the mixture has reached room temperature.
- Then, keeping the mixer on high, beat in the butter one tablespoon at a time until all of the butter in mixed in. Add in the flavoring of your choice and let set in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
- To assemble, place a meringue layer down on a plate or cake board and spread a thin layer of buttercream on top. Add a second meringue layer on top of that and repeat until all of the layers are stacked and lightly frosted.
- Finish by frosting the sides and top of the cake and by adding the rest of the chopped cashews around the sides for decoration.
- Slice, serve, and enjoy!