The sans rival is the giant French macaron-like cake you grew up with and love! If you think about it, the French macaron and the sans rival (and its baby sister, the silvanas) are very similar. Both are made with egg whites whipped until fluffy. It’s sweet and loaded with crushed or finely chopped nuts. The difference is the kind of nuts that are commonly used for either: sans rival uses chopped cashews while macaron uses finely ground almonds.
While many adore the French bite-sized dessert, the sans rival is still a super delicious full-sized cake that many of us continue to enjoy, especially during the holidays. If you are one of us, here are our best tips to make sure the one you make at home is a success!
1 Separate the eggs while cold.
Did you know that the eggs are best separated when they are still cold? The low temperature keeps the egg yolk and whites more firm so it’s easier to separate without breaking the yolk and ruining your chance of whipping the egg whites to their highest peaks later. (Remember that even a little yolk in your egg whites can make it fail to whip up!)
So, do yourself a favor and if you store your eggs in the refrigerator (We think you definitely should!), separate them before they warm up to room temperature.
2 Warm your ingredients and “age” the egg whites.
There’s a reason why baking recipes instruct you to let your ingredients all come to room temperature before starting. This is because most ingredients mix and blend better when at the same temperature and when a little warm. You might have noticed this when you try to blend cold butter and eggs together that results in a mixture that looks as if it is curdled. It just won’t mix!
However, if you set this mixture aside and let the butter thaw a bit more and basically warm up, you will eventually be able to mix the two ingredients better. This is a classic example of why the temperature of your ingredients is important in baking.
For this reason, egg whites are best whipped up when it’s no longer cold and have warmed. This isn’t the only reason, however. Egg whites not only will blend better when warm but they will also whip up more and hold the air better when it’s warm, too. The act of warming the egg whites is also a way of “aging” the egg whites.
The egg whites are especially firm when fresh so if you have older eggs where the egg whites are more liquid than gelatinous, this is the best kind of egg whites to whip into a meringue. Whipping the egg whites breaks down the whites so you’re doing your mixer (or your arm!) a favor by using eggs whites already halfway ready to be filled with air.
3 Chop up the cashews finely but leave bigger bits for crunch.
If you love the texture of the French macaron, you know it’s because of the almond flour. Almond flour is basically finely chopped almonds. It’s actually a few blitzes away from being almond butter! This tells you that if you want the same tender texture in your sans rival, you need to chop up the cashews a little finer.
However, don’t chop them all up too finely! One of the best bites in the sans rival is the knowledge that you get the nutty cashew flavor as well as the crunch! Those bits of real cashews stirred in the meringue layers that are also pressed all over the outside of the cake make the sans rival irresistible!
So take the time to both finely chop and roughly chop two batches of cashews if necessary to create this unique texture difference in your cake.
4 Make the French buttercream.
It may be a challenge but the nutty meringue layers are just the start of what makes it so delicious! The buttercream is the second component that takes this cake and makes it unrivaled in many people’s eyes. It’s super silky, buttery, and perfectly complements the sweet nuttiness of the dessert.
To make the French buttercream a success, remember that to be vigilant when handling the egg yolks in the water bath. Keep whisking and stirring, and don’t let up! If you do, remove the yolks from the hot water so it won’t cook into scrambled eggs! (These clumps will not be delicious in your buttercream.)
Master this technique and you will be able to make an equally silky Swiss buttercream with egg whites just as perfect for your other baking projects.
If you find you can’t make the cake and instead feel the need to order it in, here are sans rival desserts you can have delivered: