Monday, February 28, 2011

February 2011 Daring Bakers Challenge - Panna Cotta and Florentine Cookies

This month's Daring Bakers Challenge was hosted by Miss Mallory @ A Sofa in the Kitchen.  She decided to challenge us to make Giada's Vanilla Panna Cotta and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

This was the first time I participated in the Daring Bakers Challenge.  I was very, very nervous about making the panna cotta.  Not only have I never made panna cotta before but I've never even eaten before.  To make matters worse, I threw it together at last minute.  I wanted to make it for Valentine's Day, but piles of dishes sitting in my kitchen waiting to be cleaned made me put it off.

This was actually pretty easy to make.  I altered the recipe and came up with a Coconut Cream Cheese Panna Cotta.  It turned out pretty well other than struggling to get it to un-mold.   Mine is no where near as gorgeous as the others that have been posted but with panna cotta being fairly easy and not very time consuming I will definitely be making many different kinds.

Giada's Vanilla Panna Cotta 
my alterations are in purple

1 Cup Whole Milk - 1 Cup Coconut Milk
1 Tbsp Gelatin ( 1 packet)
3 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1/3 Cup Honey
1 Tbsp Sugar
Pinch of Salt
1/2 tsp Coconut Extract
4 oz Cream Cheese, Softened

 Pour the milk into a bowl or pot and sprinkle gelatin evenly and thinly over the milk (make sure the bowl/pot is cold by placing the bowl/pot in the refrigetor for a few minutes before you start making the panna cotta). Let stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.
 Pour the milk into the saucepan/pot and place over medium heat on the stove. Heat this mixture until it is hot, but not boiling, about five minutes. (I whisk it a few times at this stage). 
 Next, add the cream, honey, sugar, cream cheese, extract and pinch of salt. Making sure the mixture doesn't boil, continue to heat and stir occasionally until the sugar and honey have dissolved and cream cheese is melted, 5-7 minutes.
Remove from heat, allow it to sit for a few minutes to cool slightly. Then pour into the glass or ramekin.  Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. Add garnishes and serve. 

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I seemed to have accidently deleted my photos of the Florentine cookies.  I actually struggled more with those than the panna cotta.  The dough turned out a little to wet and spread way too much.  Some were chewy, some turned out crispy.  They were good though.  They reminded me of Brandy Snaps.  I may not have my photos of them but here is one posted by Mallory.

Nestle Florentine Cookies

2/3 cup unsalted butter
2 cups quick oats
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup flour
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups dark or milk chocolate

Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C) 
Prepare your baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper

 Melt butter in a medium saucepan, then remove from the heat.
 To the melted butter add oats, sugar,  flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla, and salt. Mix well.
 Drop a tablespoon full, three inches apart, onto your prepared baking sheet. Flaten slighty with the back of your tablespoon, or use a spatula. 
Bake in preheated oven for 6-8 minutes, until cookies are golden brown. Cool completely on the baking sheets. 

While the cookies are cooling melt your chocolate until smooth either in the microwave (1 1/2 minutes), or stovetop (in a double boiler, or a bowl that fits atop a saucepan filled with a bit of water, being sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl).

 Peel the cookies from the silpat or parchment and place face down on a wire wrack set over a sheet of wax/parchment paper (to keep counters clean). Spread a tablespoon of chocolate on the bottom/flat side of your cookie, sandwiching another (flat end)cookie atop the chocolate. This recipe will make about 2 1/2 - 3 dozen sandwiched florentine cookies. You can also choose not to sandwich yours, in which case, drizzle the tops with chocolate (over your wax paper).



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