Sunday, February 27, 2011

Daring Bakers - Panna Cotta and Florentine Cookies

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!

Strawberry                                           Raspberry

Panna Cotta
Source: Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis' recipe from

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.

Fruit Gelee

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.



I love all the different shaped containers you did for the panna cotta and the layers of gelée looks so pretty.

Sorry to hear about the stomach bug I hope it clears up very quickly.

Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

shelley c.

I love the look of your panna cotta, and all the different glasses and jars that you used. Strawberry and raspberry both sound like a wonderful pair for the panna cotta!! I hope that you feel better very quickly!!


I love the presentation with red and white! With such rave reviews of the panna cotta, I feel like I should keep trying until I get it to gel. I do agree that dark chocolate with the florentines is the way to go! :)

Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake

Oooh, you were brave and attempted an angled presentation, nice! Loved the vanilla and berry combination! YUM~


These look beautiful, I almost did raspberry too it sounds great!


Nice job, these look delicious! Good for you for trying it even though you doubted you'd like it. Glad you were so pleasantly surprised.

Ruth H.

I am so glad that you decided to participate this month, even though you aren't usually into this type of dessert. All of your panna cottas look beautiful, and I don't think I would be able to pick between raspberry and strawberry. Great work, and feel better!

Mei Sze

Great job with the challenge! ;) At first I couldn't get round to eating 'cooked cream' but after a spoonful of my first panna cotta a few years ago, it was love at first sight...try vanilla panna cotta with passionfruit panna cotta...yum! or you could even use greek yoghurt as your panna cotta base...mmmmmm

Mei Sze

oops..i meant vanila panna cotta with passionfruit puree...heh..typed too fast


Very nice--especially the angled layers.


Wow - gorgeous! I'll second that the containers you chose added flair to the visual presentation. As for the taste, I suppose I'll have one of each, please. :)

Perfecting Pru

These look so good. I love how the gelee is on a diagonal. It looks so tasty. Thank you for your kind comment earlier - I am wishing I had been more adventurous like you were.


You did a great job on the panna cotta - and I agree that the gelee broke up the sweetness of the dessert.

Rosa's Yummy Yums

Great job! Your creations look wonderful and delicious.




Delicious panna cotta and awesome florentine cookies.


Yum, both panna cotta flavors look pretty!


Such pretty panna cotta. I was also sure my panna cotta wouldn't set, but it was like magic.


Your presentation is beautiful. I love it!:)

Aparna Balasubramanian

YOur layers all look so perfect. Like the different glasses and jars you used for your panna cotta.