Cashew meringue and buttercream layer cake

Cashew meringue and buttercream layer cake

Sans rival

7000 Islands
Jana Liebenstein

Elaborate Sans rival is considered the grande dame of Filipino desserts. Suitably, its French name means ‘without rival’. Over the years, it has inspired diverse flavours, as well as a new generation of soaring layer cakes. I still go for classic rich cashew Sans rival, which for me is one-of-a-kind.

Sans rival is pretty much a French dacquoise. The key and defining difference is cashews, which take the place of traditional almonds or hazelnuts. The meringue is also designed to be crunchy not chewy, so store the assembled cake in the freezer instead of the refrigerator to keep it dry and crisp.


Quantity Ingredient
150g caster sugar
5 egg yolks
80g cashew paste
1/2 teaspoon honey
100ml thickened cream
150g unsalted butter, chopped and softened
1 tablespoon dark rum

Cashew meringue

Quantity Ingredient
310g raw cashews, roasted
2 tablespoons cornflour
5 egg whites
1 teaspoon lemon juice
A pinch salt
220g caster sugar
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract


  1. To make the cashew meringue, preheat the oven to 150ºC. Using a pencil, mark a circle with a 20 cm diameter onto three separate sheets of baking paper, then turn the paper over. Grease three baking trays and line with the baking paper.
  2. Place 195 g of the roasted cashews and the cornflour in a food processor and process until finely ground. Roughly chop the remaining cashews. Add half of the chopped cashews to the ground cashew mixture and reserve the remainder to decorate the cake.
  3. Using an electric mixer, whisk together the egg whites, lemon juice and salt to soft peaks. Whisking continuously, gradually add the sugar. Whisk for a further 5 minutes, or until the sugar dissolves and the meringue is thick and glossy. Fold in the vanilla and the cashew mixture until just combined. Divide the meringue over the baking paper circles and spread to an even thickness.
  4. Bake the meringues for 45 minutes, swapping the trays every 15 minutes, until golden and dry to the touch. Turn off the heat and cool the meringues in the oven with the door left ajar for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
  5. To make the mousse filling, place the sugar and 80 ml water in a small saucepan and stir over medium–high heat until the sugar dissolves. Brush down the side of the pan with a wet pastry brush to remove any sugar crystals, then bring to the boil. Cook for a further 10 minutes, or until the syrup reaches 115ºC on a sugar thermometer (soft-ball stage).
  6. Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, whisk the egg yolks for 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and whisking continuously, gradually pour the hot syrup down the side of the bowl until combined, then whisk on high speed for 5 minutes, or until thick and cool.
  7. Transfer half of the egg yolk mixture to a large clean bowl, reserving the remaining mixture for buttercream. Add the cashew paste and honey, and whisk to combine. Using an electric mixer, whisk the cream to firm peaks, then fold into the mousse.
  8. To assemble the cake, remove the meringues from the paper, then place two rounds on a clean work surface. Divide the mousse filling between the two rounds, and spread over evenly, leaving a 1 cm border. Stack them one on top of the other on a serving plate. Top with the remaining meringue, then freeze for 45 minutes, or until firm.
  9. To make the buttercream, use an electric mixer to whisk the butter, piece by piece, into the reserved egg yolk mixture until combined and fluffy, then whisk in the rum.
  10. Spread a thin layer of buttercream over the top and side of the cake, then spread over the remaining buttercream. Press the reserved chopped cashews around the side of the cake to decorate. Serve immediately or freeze for later; bring to room temperate to serve.

Where does it come from?

  • There are several theories on the existence of French-style desserts in Filipino cuisine; here is another. Around the late 19th–early 20th century, Filipino women from elite families studied culinary arts in Paris. Upon completion, they brought the classic French recipes back to the Philippines, where they were adapted with local ingredients. Filipino food authority Nora V. Daza believes she found evidence in an 1895 cookbook from the Ecole Le Cordon Bleu, which included a recipe for ‘gateau le sans rival’.
Back to top
    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again