(SPOT.ph) From its name, much is expected of the Gateau le Sans Rival (also, sans rival/sansrival/sanzrival), which in French means "without rival." It's a favorite Filipino meringue-based layer cake served on special occasions or as a dessert. Although we trace our rich desserts by way of Spain, the sansrival is much like a French dacquoise (nut meringue).
The texture of the meringue wafers vary-some sansrivals produce thick and crunchy layers while others are thin and compact or thick but airy. While perfectly baked meringue forms the base, it is the French buttercream which gives it that unrivaled character compared with sponge-based cakes. To make it, hot sugar syrup is beaten into egg yolks until thick and when cooled, butter is then whipped into the mixture for a very rich and smooth buttercream.
Chopped nuts lend flavor and texture to the whole cake, sprinkled on top and mixed into the meringue itself. In the Governor General's Kitchen, food historian Felice Sta. Maria observes that sansrival was being made as early as the 1930s and bakers used almonds whenever available. Native pili nuts were also used, and cashews were considered an alternative. Now, we have modern variations that use the indigenous pandan and ube as well as the exotic macadamia and pistachio.
Sansrival face-off: which meringue-based dessert gets your vote? Click for more.
Photos by Jenny B. Orillos