(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.)

This month was a dessert I’d never heard of before – San Rival.  It’s Filipino – layers of meringue with nuts, separated with layers of buttercream.  I did both the meringues and buttercream in chocolate. 

The base started with 10 egg whites. They got beaten with a cup of sugar and a bit of cocoa.  Once they get to stiff peaks, a cup of finely chopped nuts gets folded in.  The recipe calls for cashews, but I had walnuts, so I used those.

The layers get baked in cake pans.  The recipe was written for one large "cake", but I thought they’d be cute as mini desserts. So I baked them in layers:

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Then took a biscuit cutter and cut out small circles of each layer.  Other people said their layers came out too crunchy for cutting, but mine were only very crunchy around the edges.  I could have baked them longer, but I liked the texture as they were.

On to the buttercream.  I’ve made buttercream a lot, and so I knew what to expect.  I beat the eggs, cooked the sugar, poured it in slowly, let it cool, and added the butter.  I don’t even get nervous anymore when it looks just about to break – I just let it settle.

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I had fresh eggs, which had very yellow yolks, so my buttercream came out pretty cream-colored.  At the very end, I added 2 ounces of melted and cooled chocolate.

Then the assembly. I stacked the meringues, piped the buttercream on them, and sprinkled walnuts on top:

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A whole plate:

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They came out really good. I like this buttercream recipe better then my current one – it’s much lighter.  Vanilla meringues with the chocolate filling would look impressive, too.  This one is going into my rotation for guest nights!

( see the recipe )

When I was a kid, I went to school with a few kids from a church that made peanut brittle every Christmas.  It came in rounds the size of pie tins, and it was the best peanut brittle I’ve ever had.

I’ve made a lot of peanut brittle myself over the years, but none of it was as good as that was. 

Then I picked up a copy of Sweet Confections.  I’ve been a huge fan of BonBonBar for years, so when I heard she was closing shop, I got in one last order of candy bars – and a copy of her cookbook.

It’s been taunting me on the counter for a couple of weeks, and finally I managed to get all the ingredients together for her peanut brittle recipe. 

It starts with sugar, corn syrup, and water in a pan, cooked to 250F.  Then, you add the peanuts and some butter, and stir, until  it gets to 320F. I’d never tried that before – all the other recipes I’d tried cooked the syrup, then just poured it over the peanuts.

Add a bit of kosher salt, some vanilla for flavor, and baking soda for texture, then pour it out onto parchment paper.

Peanut Brittle The recipe said to spread it with an offset spatula, but I don’t have one, and my marble rolling pin was already out on the counter, so I sprayed a silpat with pam, laid it on top, and ran the rolling pin over it a few times.  I ended up with perfectly flat brittle.

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After half an hour of cooling, I broke it into pieces.  It shattered perfectly.

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And it was really good.  It’s very peanut-y, the candy is caramelized enough to give it depth, and the kosher salt gives it tiny pockets of saltiness.  You could add cinnamon or cayenne pepper (I like ancho chili pepper, too, for smokiness), but I didn’t.  It was good just the way it was.

I’ve made 4 batches over the last week.  They’re all gone now.  And the best measure of a brittle is how fast it disappears!

( see the recipe )