"Kusina" = Kitchen; "Manang" = older sister

A Filipina's unabashed chronicle of her adaptations in the American kitchen. Includes step-by-step photos on how to make pan de sal, ensaymada, pan de coco, siopao, hopia, pandelimon, pianono, atsara, crema de fruta,etc., and if you are lucky, you will find videos too!

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Almond Sans Rival Part II - Buttercream

Here is now the second part of my sans rival series. I posted part I earlier, featuring how I made my meringue layers. This time, I will feature how I made the buttercream.

I used the recipe from foodnetwork, which was forwarded to me by retired pastry chef EQ (he commented in my supersoft ensaymada, and helped me look for sans rival recipes to follow, plus a secret pandesal recipe in exchange for the satisfaction he got from my ensaymada recipe).

I also used a candy thermometer and a bowl of cold water to test the softball stage. This is the first time I attempted making buttercream. I do remember that my sister Cris in Canada used to love this frosting. She would often ask my ex-MIL for a cake with that kind of frosting for her birthdays (kapal! Ako dapat nagre-request eh!)

In retrospect, after eating several of these deliciously rich dessert, I would have changed some things:
(1) make the wafers/meringue layers thicker
(2) use less butter (the recipe source says you may not have to use the whole pound of butter; depends on how much water you cook out when making the syrup)
(3) wait longer for the syrup+egg whites to cool down some more before starting to add the cut up butter (so that the frosting would have achieved the look that I was waiting for before I have added the whole pound of butter). Oh well, I was too impatient. I will try next time.
(4) apply thinner buttercream in between meringue layers (although maybe this would not be necessary if my meringue were thicker). The buttercream I had in the first few ones I made were too overwhelming, they were all I could taste, with barely a hint of the almond dacquoise/meringue taste.

Well, without further ado, here's the buttercream recipe. One thing for sure, it did taste so much like what my ex-MIL made.

UPDATE as of 5/5/09: I made this for the second time and used restraint with adding the butter. Patience is the key. I used less butter this time (3 sticks and 1/4) and I am more satisfied (hubby as well).

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
4 egg whites
3 sticks to 1 lb butter (1 box), cut up (when I made this the second time, I used 3-1/4 sticks and my husband liked it better)
1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


In a small clean dry saucepan, place 2 cups sugar and then pour 1/2 cup water down the sides of the pan. Make an X in the sugar with 1 finger to encourage the water to seep into the middle of the pan of sugar. Bring to a boil on high heat and cook until softball stage (you can test with the bowl of cold water or 235 degrees F on a candy thermometer). This takes more than 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, while waiting for the syrup to boil, in a mixer with a whip attachment, whip the whites on moderate until they form soft peaks. When the syrup is up to temperature (235-240), drizzle it down the wall of the mixing bowl with the mixer running. Continue whipping (this time I used the fastest setting) until light, fluffy and almost cooled down (probably took me 5-7 minutes to wait).

Prepare the cut up butter by the mixer, placed atop bags of ice to keep them from melting. I also put another bag of ice on top of them. Later on, you will use these bags to cool down the mixing bowl.

Start adding the butter a few cubes at a time to cool the frosting and thicken it. The mixture will become RUNNY/SOUPY initially, the fluffiness gone for a while. Don't stop beating. Just place the bags of ice around the mixing bowl and continue beating, adding the butter gradually until you used up 3 sticks (took me about 5 minutes to do this). Soon it will look like runny cream that's smooth (almost like sundae). Taste it. If you already like the taste, stop adding butter. If you still think it is too sugary and want some more butter, then go ahead and add some more. Continue beating on high until it looks curdled (took me about 10 minutes to get to this stage after adding all butter) and add vanilla extract. Beat some more until it gets thick and of spreading consistency.

Keep the buttercream cold.

DISCLAIMER: Like I have said in the past, and I will say it again, I am not a culinary expert, and I am not an officially trained baker. All my tips above were based on my own experiences as I attempted to make this, also using several comments and tips from sites I have visited who had tried making this rich dessert. If you have tips to add, or if you see something wrong with what I did, feel free to comment on how I could have improved my recipe or method. Thanks.

UPDATE as of 3/29/09: Today I made the egg yolk version of buttercream (basically the same technique), and I can say it is not as creamy-tasting as the one made with egg whites. So I placed just a thin layer (1 tbsp) of this in between my meringue layers that I made last night (thicker this time). Later tonight I will make the egg white version of buttercream again (possibly half the recipe that I posted above) to coat the outside. My husband still prefers the plain (no frosting) meringue cookies.


  1. Thank you again! It's so hard to find recipes for these classic Filipino desserts that come with such detailed instructions. I've always wanted to make sans rival but it looked so complicated!

  2. I'll definitely try this recipe next time I have plenty of egg whites...

  3. thania: O my, is kusina ni manang a resto? pls. tell me wer, or she's just sharing recipes? i'm 7mon preggy to my 1st daughter at the moment and now on a strict diet(lowcarbs/low sugar/low fat). but i am a cake/sweet eater, pls share a gud idea of what food to eat inspite of my condition. thanks!

  4. hi thania,
    Are you having gestational diabetes? Seems like you are very much on a limited diet!
    Well, I am a firm believer in sticking to the natural foods as much as possible, especially when pregnant, so no sugar substitutes (in any case, such things as splenda and equal have the potential to be carcinogenic and who knows what else it can to do humans). So, for me, low carb, low sugar and low fat means I can eat anything, but in LOW AMOUNTS...preferably munch a little at a time, up to 6 times a day for better distribution, without overwhelming my body system, so that my sugar levels will remain quite stable. If you indulge in one sitting, the sugar peaks too much and your body has a hard time coping with the metabolism.

  5. Can I use corn syrup w/ some sugar instead of sugar & water?

  6. Hi Amie,
    I don't think it will give you the same consistency as the one I aimed to achieve here, but it will be up to you to experiment.

  7. Hey Manang!

    I tried the buttercream recipe and I <3 it, but my family thought the buttercream w/ the meringue combo was too sweet. They absolutely <3 the meringue & want to keep it as it is. However, is there a way to modify the buttercream recipe to lighten its sweetness?

    For example, I was thinking about not changing a majority of the buttercream recipe, but I was wondering if it was possible to only use 1 cup of sugar instead of 2 & still reduce the syrup w/ 1/2 cup of water or should it be a 1/4 cup of water? Then would those modifications make the buttercream bland?

  8. HI ANonymous, thanks for your feedback. I think you can reduce the whole amount of the syrup but maintain the right ratio of sugar to water. Otherwise, I think you will just cook longer to achieve the right consistency of the syrup. Then I suggest you gradually add the butter. You might not have to use the whole amount of butter per this recipe because you might find it too buttery and overwhelming. However, I suggest you taste from time to time, and even try sandwiched between meringues before stopping adding the butter to the buttercream.

  9. You used Italian Meringue Buttercream? That's interesting, I'll try that next time :)
    I always accompany Sans rival with French buttercream (egg yolks, hot syrup & butter), and it's really really divine :) Although its quite hard to find the buttercream recipe online because some recipes "claims" it to be French recipe when its really not :/

    I think that the originator of this recipe is a Filipino chef who studied in France, and went back home and found that Almonds were imported and used Cashew instead for his Dacquoise cake (Almond/Hazelnut meringue layer with French buttercream) and viola! Sans Rival was made :)) LOL. That's just an assumption.


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