The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.
I wasn't sure that I was going to like this challenge because I'm not usually a fan of cold custard type desserts, but surprisingly I liked it. I think the layer of raspberry gelee influenced my opinion of this dessert, without it I don't think I would have enjoyed it as much. The layer of raspberry gelee gave a bit of substance to each bite. I made both raspberry and strawberry, although I originally was just going to make raspberry. It was a bit of a challenge for me in that I have never made Panna Cotta nor attempted layering in this type of dessert.
The Panna Cotta was very easy to make. I made it first knowing that it would be my first layer and that I could make the raspberry gelee while the Panna Cotta was setting in the fridge. After making the raspberry gelee I realized that I had way more Panna Cotta than gelee so I dug around in my fridge and found some strawberries I had recently purchased. Voila, I made some strawberry gelee and half of the desserts were raspberry, half were strawberry and it gave me an opportunity to really experiment with presentation.
Since I had never made this dessert before there was a moment after they went into the fridge where I unsure if it would set up as it was supposed to. I was pleasantly surprised when I took them out of the fridge a few hours later and they were set enough to add the next layer. I had so much fun spending the day layering and playing around with presentation, it turned out to be an enjoyable experience in my kitchen! Enjoy!
Source: Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis' recipe from Foodnetwork.com
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon unflavored powdered gelatin
3 cups whipping cream
1 whole vanilla bean
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
pinch of salt
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 refrigerator 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. Slice the skin of the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out insides. Place insides and skin into milk. Heat this mixture until it is hot, but not boiling, about five minutes. (I whisk it a few times at this stage). Remove the skin of the vanilla bean.
Next, add the cream, honey, sugar, and pinch of salt. Making sure the mixture doesn't boil, continue to heat and stir occasionally until the sugar and honey have dissolved 5-7 minutes.
Remove from heat, allow it to sit for a few minutes to cool slightly. Then pour into the glass or ramekin. If layering with gelee refrigerate for a few hours to solidify the Panna Cotta. If not layering, refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight, add garnishes and serve.
1 cup fruit (strawberries, raspberries, mango, blackberry, etc.)
*Note: Certain fruits interact with gelatin and stop it gelling like pineapple and kiwi etc.
3 tablespoons water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
Sprinkle gelatin over water. Place fruit and sugar in a small saucepan and simmer until sugar has dissolved. Now mix the gelatin into the strawberry mixture and stir until gelatin has dissolved.
Remove from heat and allow to cool (close to room temp, again, if you're planning on layering or pouring on top of your Panna Cotta, a hot mixture will also heat up your chilled Panna Cotta).
Dark Chocolate Florentine Cookies
2/3 cup unsalted butter
2 cups quick oats
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/4 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1½ cups dark or milk chocolate
Preheat oven to 375°F. Prepare your baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper.
Melt butter in medium saucepan; remove from heat. Stir in oats, sugar, flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla extract and salt; mix well. Drop by level teaspoons, about 3 inches apart, onto prepared baking sheets. Spread thinly with rubber spatula.
Bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets on wire racks. Peel cookies from sheet.
Microwave chocolate morsels in medium, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on medium-high power for 1 minute; stir. Morsels may retain some of their original shape. If necessary, microwave at additional 10 to 15-second intervals, stirring just until morsels are melted. Spread thin layer of melted chocolate onto flat side of half the cookies. Top with remaining cookies to make sandwiches. Or drizzle chocolate over individual cookies.