This deliciously rich variation of a French Dacquoise (or the "Sans Rival" of the Philippines) blends the flavors of toasted walnut, honey, Parmigiano-Reggiano and sweet white wine.
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. ("Those of us" didn't include me-it's coming on the holidays so one daring recipe was plenty, though, her salted eggs are officially on my to-do list!)
When I read up on this month's challenge, the Sans Rival, I knew immediately what spin I wanted to put on this Filipino dessert. I love the flavor combination of walnut, honey, parmigiano-regianno and a good sweet Riesling. This plate on the right is something I treat myself to whenever I can afford the good cheese: toasted nuts with hunks of cheese all drizzled with honey. Yum! The Sans Rival is typically made with lots of eggs, sugar, cashews and a rich buttercream. I immediately thought of walnut and honey in place of the sugar and cashews, and the rest was a natural way to kick it up a notch.
If you want to tackle this recipe (and I hope you do!) you are lucky if you own a stand mixer. I don't, and this is one time I felt my determination to live without one weaken a bit. Lots of mixing going on here. Besides that, it's fairly easy! Unless of course you don't own a candy thermometer. Then you may be out of luck. I used my fairly inexpensive digital thermometer for about the tenth time in the 5 months I've been a Daring Baker. It's a very handy tool.
My recipe resembles that given by Catherine, the challenge host. I tinkered with the flavor of the frosting quite a bit and had to go with a different technique for the baked meringue since I was using honey in place of white sugar.
The finished cake tastes of honey graham crackers and toasted nuts with a little kick of cheese and wine. The meringue is wonderfully crispy and the buttercream is as rich as can be.
Here goes the recipe!
10 large egg whites, at room temp
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup water
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped very fine
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped roughly
Preheat oven to moderate 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3.
Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper and butter and flour the sides really well.
In a large (and very clean) mixing bowl, beat egg whites on medium until foamy. Sprinkle with cream of tartar. Beat until soft peaks form.
Heat sugar and honey with 1/3 cup water over medium-high heat, stirring, until the mixture reaches 240F.
With the mixer on, slowly (and carefully, avoiding it splashing up at you) add the hot syrup to the bowl and mix on high until stiff peaks form.
Fold in finely ground nuts.
Spread in the pan, evenly to the edges.
Bake in preheated oven for 35-45 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Allow to cool slightly on the pan. Peel off the parchment paper while it is still warm, it is difficult to remove sometimes when they have completely cooled.
Cut baked meringue into equal sized rectangles. Place the pieces back on the parchment on the baking and return them to the oven and leave them in there until the oven is cool. If the meringue is not crispy (still feeling spongy when pressed lightly), turn the oven to 250F and bake for another 20 minutes or until the wafers firm up. They should end up very crispy and quite dark but not burned.
When cool, trim edges so that all 4 meringue layers are uniformly shaped. Set aside.
5 large egg yolks, at room temp
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup Reisling
1¼ cup (2½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1½ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 teaspoons Reisling
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, honey and wine in a pan and cook over medium heat, stirring 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 butter a tablespoon at a time. Add vanilla and 3 tsp wine after you beat in the butter.
Refrigerate the buttercream for at least an hour, and whip it smooth just before you use it.
Grate 2/3 cup parmigiano-regianno.
Set bottom meringue on cake board with a dab of butter cream to hold it in place. Spread a thin layer of buttercream, a sprinkle of cheese and then place another meringue on top. Repeat with a thin layer of buttercream, cheese, meringue, buttercream, cheese, meringue, and finally buttercream the top and sides. Decorate with reserved nuts and remaining cheese.
Refrigerate until ready to serve. It is easiest to cut when it's very cold.
Serve with a glass of chilled Riesling and enjoy!