Daring Bakers’ November 2011 Challenge: Sans Rival-esque!

Daring Bakers time again. A challenge with mixed success for me... what I ended up with is blatantly nowhere close to what I should have done, but (and it's a big but!) it also tasted fantastic, so it wasn't a complete failure!

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 a bonus recipe for Bibingka which comes from her friend Jun of Jun-blog.

I have to confess to being completely clueless about Filipino cuisine, either sweet or savoury and I had no idea what Sands Rival cake, or Bibingka were. I'm guessing that most of you reading this are in the same boat, so here's a brief description, taken from Catherine's words of wisdom in the challenge post...

"The first is a Sans Rival cake. “Sans rival” means “without rival” and any Filipino will argue with you that this is true. Although it’s one of the most popular desserts in the Philippines, its origins are certainly French. In the 1920’s to 30’s there were many Filipinos who went abroad to study. A good number went to France and learned many French cooking techniques which they then brought home. A Sans Rival is made with layers of dacquoise, typically using crushed cashews, with very rich French buttercream frosting. The dacquoise is allowed to bake and dry to a crispy layer so that there is the crunch of pastry and nuts with the buttery, silky frosting. 
Bibingka is traditionally served during Christmas. It’s similar to other Asian desserts that use rice flour as the base, like mochii. The traditional method of preparation is to line a special clay pot with banana leaves, pour in the batter, top with banana leaf, and then sit it in coals to cook. It is served with a shredded, mild, white cheese and slices of salted egg on top for flavor contrasts. But you can also top it with butter and shredded coconut."
So, my first thought was to make the Bibingka, since a main feature of the Sans Rival cake is buttercream, which is hard to make dairy-free.
But after pondering a) the availability of banana leaves in Scotland, b) white cheese - again difficult to de-dairy, and c) salted egg in a dessert, I decided to give the Sans Rival a shot after all!

The meringue mixture whipped up fine, and I spread half into small rounds, to make some Sans-Rival mini cakes, whilst the other I made a couple of large rectangles.

The small ones lifted off the baking sheets without issue, but the large ones stuck horrendously. Disaster no. 1. They swiftly just became a tub full of chunks of nutty meringue and a pile of crumbs!

Disaster no. 2 was the buttercream, although it was hardly really a disaster. I did not end up with butter cream. I did end up with completely delicious dairy free hazelnut chocolate truffle mixture - this cloud definitely had a silver lining!

So I spread a smear of the chocolate mixture on a meringue layer, and stuck another one on top, in a kind of sans-rival meets sandwich cookie. To finish them off I drizzled melted dark chocolate on top.

They disappeared swiftly as dessert when family were round for dinner, and they were enthusiastically eaten, however it's a good job they were eaten quickly, since being out in the air for even a short period of time meant the meringue started to go very sticky and chewy.

Will I make sans rival cake again - probably not. Will I make cashew meringue again - definitely yes. Will I make the chocolate filling again - another resounding yes. So all things considered, a successful challenge, despite ending up with something completely different to the plan.