Cake, Candy, Recipes

Peanut Toffee Sans Rival


Yesterday was my sister’s birthday, and I wanted to surprise her with a dessert that we both grew up with, Sans Rival. While both the name and the methods used are purely European, Sans Rival is a dessert widely popular in the Phillippines.


The name itself literally translates to “without rival,” and with a name like that who could resist; it’s composed of layers of nut meringue (traditionally cashew) and a rich, buttery French buttercream. Here I decided to give it a twist by replacing the crushed cashews with peanut toffee bits, and by adding a bit (a lot a bit) of rum to the buttercream. I also opted out of covering the entire thing with the buttercream because a little of the stuff goes a long way!


The end result was an incredibly rich bite, with a crunch from the meringue and a smooth, creamy finish with the buttercream. Trust me when I say a small portion is more than enough to get your sweet tooth on.

Peanut Toffee Sans Rival

makes 1 (6-inch) cake

For meringues:

151 g egg whites

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

60 g granulated sugar

60 g peanut or other nut toffee, ground finely to almost a powder

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 250F. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine egg whites and cream of tartar, and whip on medium high speed until it reaches soft peaks. With mixer running, slowly stream in sugar, then whip until it reaches stiff, glossy peaks. Using a rubber spatula, fold in peanut toffee and vanilla extract.

Line 2 half sheet pans with silicon mats, then using a piping bag fitted with a medium round tip, pipe meringue batter in a spiral pattern onto silicon mats. You should have enough meringue to make 4 discs, each being 6 inches in diameter. Place sheet pans in preheated oven, and bake about 50 minutes, or until center is firm to the touch when pressed lightly. Let cool completely before filling; discs will be very fragile when cooled, so be careful!

For Rum French Buttercream:

75 g egg yolks

76 g granulated sugar

65 g water

150 g butter, very soft, cut into cubes

6 g dark rum

In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, whip egg yolks on medium high speed. While yolks are whipping, combine sugar and water in a small saucepot and bring to a boil. Let sugar and water cook until it reaches 121C (250F), then with mixer running, slowly pour sugar down the side of the mixing bowl and into egg yolks. Let yolks whip until pale yellow and almost double in volume. With mixer running, add butter little by little, and whip until fully incorporated and buttercream is very smooth and creamy. Slowly stream in dark rum and mix until smooth.

For assembly:

Loosen meringue discs off of silicon mats, being careful not to break them. Determine which disc is the largest and use that as your base.

Place first disc down onto your serving dish (or cardboard circle if you’re transporting it like I did) with a bit of buttercream on the bottom to hold it in place. Divide buttercream into 3, and layer it between meringues, carefully spreading buttercream from the center out, then topping each layer of buttercream with some crushed toffee before adding the next meringue. I dusted the top of the last layer of meringue with some cocoa powder, just to give it a more finished look and a bit of bitterness to kind of balance out the overall sweetness, but it is completely optional. If you would like your Sans Rival to be crunchy, let it sit at room temperature for at least an hour before consuming. If you want it more chewy or soft, let it sit at room temperature for a few more hours or even overnight before enjoying.

Breakfast, Cake, Candy, fruit, lunch, Recipes

Blood Orange and Almond Torte


The other night one of Robert’s friends invited us over for dinner with him and his wife, and I knew I wanted to make something sweet for the two of them.


I wandered around the market in search of ideas. Once I saw the cart full of blood oranges, I immediately knew what I wanted to make. I made a hearty, almost rustic almond cake and topped them with the sweet, syrupy oranges.


I love the deep color of the blood orange and the sweetness it holds; not overly tart and just slightly bitter from the pith. I cooked them in a syrup with hints of cinnamon, giving it a bit of warmth.


The textures in the torte are what makes it such a great dessert; you get the crunch from the almonds, the chewiness from the candied oranges, and the dry crumb from the cake itself. This recipe is quite quick, and I will definitely be using it again, with other citrus fruits as well.

Blood Orange and Almond Torte

makes 1 (9inch) torte

For almond torte:

40 g granulated sugar

113 g butter, soft

55 g buttermilk

100 g egg

3 g vanilla extract

150 g All Purpose flour

8 g baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

35 g sliced almonds, plus more for garnish

Preheat your oven to 350F. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together sugar and butter with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy.

Coarsely chop the almonds, and in a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and almonds until there are no lumps. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla extract, then slowly stream into the sugar/butter mixture while mixer is running on medium speed, until all liquid is absorbed. Scrape bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Change speed to low, then add dry ingredients, and mix just until all ingredients are combined. Batter will be quite thick.

Grease a 9″ cake round, and spread batter evenly into round, and bake 25-27 minutes or until sides of the cake have browned and pulled from the cake pan, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely in pan, and turn over onto your serving plate.

For Candied Blood Oranges and syrup:

280 g granulated sugar

150 g water

10 g dark rum

2 cinnamon sticks

juice of 2 blood oranges (about 80 g)

1-2 blood oranges, sliced 1/8″ thick

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pot, and bring to a boil. Over medium heat, let syrup boil until reduced by half (about 20 minutes) and rinds of orange slices become slightly translucent. Using tongs, carefully arrange slices on top of your torte. Chill syrup until it thickens to the consistency of honey, then discard cinnamon sticks and drizzle syrup over the top of the oranges, letting it drip down the sides of the torte. Garnish the top of the torte with more sliced almonds, and enjoy!

Breakfast, Custard, Dinner, fruit, lunch, Recipes, Savoury

Marzipan and Gorgonzola Apple Tart


So I know that apples are more of an autumn thing, but Southern California has been ridiculously cold lately. I mean like, freezing. Usually in the morning I like to go for a jog at the beach, but with all the crazy winds and icy temperatures, I decided to just stay home and bake something to warm me up a bit.


Almonds, gorgonzola, honey, and apples. It’s like an entire cheese platter mixed together to make an amazingly sweet and savory breakfast tart or tea time snack.


For a quick and flavorful tart, I’d definitely say try it. The marzipan crust lends a crumbly, crunchy texture, while the gorgonzola custard filling adds a nice creamy touch.

Marzipan and Gorgonzola Apple Tart

Makes 1 (10″) tart

For Marzipan tart shell:

112 g unsalted butter, soft

120 g marzipan, soft

160 g All Purpose flour

60 g granulated sugar

3 g salt

Preheat your oven to 375F. In a bowl of a stand mixer, paddle together butter and marzipan until smooth. Add your flour, sugar, and salt, and paddle until combined and dough forms large crumbles. Press dough firmly into a greased tart pan, and parbake shell for 12-15 minutes, until it turns a light golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

For filling:

90 g crumbled gorgonzola cheese, plus more as needed

70 g heavy cream

50 g egg (1 large egg)

cracked black pepper, as needed

2 apples, cored and sliced thinly (I used Red Romes)

honey, as needed

Whisk together gorgonzola, heavy cream, egg, and black pepper, leaving some large pieces of gorgonzola in tact. Pour custard over cooled tart shell. Arrange apple slices along the inside of the tart, fanning them out as you go. Lightly drizzle honey over apples.  Bake at 375F for 18-20 minutes until filling is set.

Pull out tart from oven and set your oven to broil. Sprinkle some more gorgonzola crumbles over the top of the apples, and broil 2-3 minutes, until cheese starts to brown and bubble. Let cool slightly before digging in!