(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 )

(The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!)

I was wary of another yeast bread challenge.  The last one didn’t turn out particularly well, but I figured I’d give this a shot. 

Povitica is a yeast bread with a nut filling.  It gets rolled out very thin, the topping goes on top, then it’s rolled up like a jelly roll and folder into a pan for baking.  This recipe makes 4 loves – that’s a lot of nut bread.

The dough gets mixed up and kneaded:

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Then split into 4 portions to rise. 

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After an hour and a half of rising, it gets rolled out.  The instructions said "thin enough to read through".  I got pretty close to that.  Having the marble rolling pin really helps – without it, my back would have been killing me by the second loaf.

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The filling goes on top:

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Then it gets rolled up and goes into pans.  I don’t own four bread pans, so I made do with my clay cooker and some CorningWare:

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Then 45 minutes of baking.  I should have been a bit more gentle – in some of the pans, the bread split open.

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After half an hour of cooling, I had bread:

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It was really good.  I did three loaves with walnuts, and one with pecans and chocolate.  I haven’t cut into that one yet, but the walnut loaves were great.  We took two loaves to work, and they pretty much disappeared. I’d make it again – only next time, not 4 loaves at a time!

( see the recipe )

(The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at http://thedaringkitchen.com!)

I love mousse.  If I see chocolate mousse on a dessert menu, it’s almost always what I choose.  And I like maple syrup, so I fully expected to like maple mousse.

The mousse was only half of the challenge, though.  The other half was edible bowls.  There were a few choices, but I didn’t really want to make bacon cups, so I made mine from nuts.  They’re very simple – just finely diced walnuts, an egg, and a bit of sugar, pressed into tiny bowls lined with aluminum foil.  In retrospect, greasing the inside of the foil would have been a good idea, but I didn’t think about it at the time.

Bake the bowls at 350F for 15 minutes or so until the nuts are toasty. 

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I looked at them when they came out of the oven, and I wasn’t sure they were going to hold together.  I was afraid to try to unmold one, so I coated the inside of the bowls with a layer of dark chocolate, hoping it would add more stability.

It turned out they were quite solid – you could easily pick them up, even full of mousse, so I shouldn’t have worried.  But the chocolate was good anyway.

Maple Mousse

On to the mousse!  This was more complicated.  It started with blooming unflavored gelatin in heavy cream.  Then, I brought a cup of maple syrup to a boil, and very carefully and slowly dribbled it into 4 beaten egg yolks.

Then the recipe said, "Whisk occasionally for approximately an hour or until the mixture has the consistency of an unbeaten raw egg white."  I wasn’t sure the gelatin would set up on the counter to thicken it, and I wasn’t sure how occasionally to whisk – once every 5 minutes?  A few times over the hour?  So I left it on the counter while I made dinner, whisking it when I thought about it.

And in about 45 minutes, sure enough, it was exactly the consistency of a good, fresh, unbeaten egg white.  I was genuinely surprised, and I’m still not sure I understand how it worked.  But it did. 

After that, it was just a matter of whipping some cream, and carefully folding in the maple mixture.  I put it in the fridge to chill for an hour. While it was chilling, I gingerly unmolded the cups.  They were a bit stuck to the foil, but not bad, and I shouldn’t have worried about the strength – they were solid.

When the mousse was chilled, I piped it into the cups and sprinkled a few more nuts on top.

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They came out gorgeous.  They would have made a great dinner party dessert – except that I didn’t like the mousse.  The maple flavor was way too strong, and I thought it was almost cloying.  On the other hand, I loved the process, and I may do them again, with a different recipe – say, a good peanut butter mousse, with a peanut cup with the chocolate layer? 

As always, a fun challenge!

( see the recipe )