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.
This was the perfect challenge for February! I made Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta hearts with Strawberry Coulis and Florentine Heart Cookies for Valentine’s Day. Strawberry coulis is a fancy name for a strawberry sauce that has been strained so it doesn’t have any seeds. Panna Cotta is a smooth, creamy, sensual dessert that is an ideal end to a romantic meal.
I followed the given recipes except I substituted agave nectar for the honey and added a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste in the Panna Cotta. Like many others, my cookies spread too much so I added a bit more flour and staggered them on the cookie sheet baking only 8 on a sheet. After they were baked my husband cut them out with a metal cookie cutter.
We’d never had Florentines before and we loved this light, crispy, sweet cookie. We couldn’t stop eating the bits that were cut off. The leftover bits would be a fabulous topping for a sundae.
Strawberry Panna Cotta
- 1 cup 240 ml whole milk
- 1 tablespoon one packet (15 ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
- 3 cups 720 ml whipping cream (30+% butterfat)
- ⅓ cup 80 ml honey (I used agave)
- 1 tablespoon 15 ml (15 gm) (½ oz) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla or vanilla bean paste
- 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. 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, vanilla 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.
- Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. Add garnishes and serve.
Nestle Florentine Cookies
- ⅔ cup 160 ml (150 gm) (5.3 oz) unsalted butter
- 2 cups 480 ml (160 gm) (5 ⅔ oz) quick oats
- 1 cup 240 ml (230 gm) (8 oz) granulated sugar
- ⅔ cup 160 ml (95 gm) (3? oz) plain (all purpose) flour ( I used 1 cup)
- ¼ cup 60 ml dark corn syrup
- ¼ cup 60 ml whole milk
- 1 tsp 5 ml vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 1½ cups 360 ml (250 gm) (9 oz) dark or milk chocolate
- Preheat oven to moderately hot 375°F (190°C) (gas mark 5). 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 (75 mm) apart, onto your prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly 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 ½ 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 rack 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 ½ - 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).
- Strawberry Coulis
- 3 cups strawberries diced
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon orange zest
- 2 tablespoons water
- In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients and bring to a boil. Once it is boiling and the sugar has been dissolved, turn off the heat.
- Purée until smooth with an immersion blender or transfer the mixture to a blender and purée until smooth. Strain through a mesh strainer to remove the seeds.
- Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze to use at a later date.
Thanks Mallory for a fabulous challenge! Please visit the Daring Kitchen to see a slideshow of the fabulous desserts the Daring Bakers created for this challenge and additional tips and recipes.