Panna Cotta & Nestle Florentine Cookies (Daring Baker Challenge February 2011)

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’ve been incredibly busy in the run-up to Oxford Fashion Week – Creative Director of the Ethical Fashion Events. I’m excited but also very, very tired. I’ve been working all hours on EVERY aspect of this event (full time team members=2 people) and I really hope it’s going to be a success. However, there’s nothing better for the body & soul by indulging in some daring baking. People are often surprised when they hear I’m stressed as I always appear to be so calm, I think it’s because at the back of my mind I’m planning what I’m going to have for dinner.

My first attempt was the full-fat version – rooibos tea, chocolate & lapsang, served with Florentine cookies. This was a really lovely treat, though lacked the panna cotta wobble, I think I needed to add more gelatin as I was using the sheet variety.

My next attempt was inspired by my recent trip to Singapore – sago melaka panna cotta using tapioca pearls, coconut milk sweetened with palm sugar. I omitted the cream and used more gelatin, this was really lovely!

My final attempt was a multi-layered version – blueberry & red wine gelée, ube purple yam, grapefruit & cassis, coffee, vanilla & leatherwood honey, and cinnamon custard. I think I used a few too many different flavours, the coffee being the strongest of them all. I made a crunchy praline with black sesame, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, Yum!

Recipe Source:…
Note: A few tips.
First, when you sprinkle your gelatin over your milk, be sure that it’s a thin even layer of gelatin, no clumps. When you heat it up after it’s soaked a bit, you’ll be less likely to get any lumps of gelatin in the finished product.
Second, if you would like to unmold your Panna Cotta from a ramekin simply run a knife along the edge, dip the ramekin in a bit of hot water, then invert onto your serving platter. Viola! Unmolded Panna Cotta. (Be aware though, Panna Cotta is not Jell-o, it’s got a much softer texture so it does not keep its shape in the same way as Jell-o)
If you cannot find powdered gelatin/only have access to sheet gelatin this can be used. Please follow the directions on the package for conversions.
Milk substitutes, such as skim, almond, or even coconut milk can be used in the vanilla Panna Cotta in place of the whole milk, but cream is important. In order to get the right texture there needs be a certain percentage of cream fat! There are lower fat recipes out there that use yogurts in place of milk, but the recipes I’ve chosen are full fat, sorry guys!!
The Florentine cookie and chocolate Panna Cotta are quite sweet, maybe too sweet for some. To lessen the sweetness factor consider using a dark chocolate, or bittersweet in both recipes. In regards to the Panna Cotta, I would reduce the sugar to 1/4 or 1/3 of a cup, and perhaps pair it with a more bitter element like coffee gelée or a tart fruit.
Mandatory Items: Panna Cotta and Florentine Cookies
Variations allowed: If the vanilla does not appeal to you, I am also giving you a recipe for chocolate Panna Cotta. You have a choice between the two. However, the vanilla can be modified, I generally add vanilla bean, you could also add a bit of matcha (powdered green tea), or fruit. Speaking of fruit, I’m going to give you one recipe for strawberry, and another for coffee gelée, essentially homemade Jell-o. Gelée can be poured on the bottom, top, or layered in with your Panna Cotta (though it takes a few extra steps to do this). So make the vanilla or chocolate recipe, but feel free to play with this it. I just want you to start with a base recipe. What you top it with, or garnish with is also up to you. Have fun, and get creative. In regards to the cookie, if you want to add nuts, or use a different chocolate, go for it.

Preparation time:
• 20-25 minutes to prepare the Panna Cotta – at least 6 hours to chill
• 20-25 minutes to prepare the cookies 6-8 minutes to bake
Equipment required:
• Small mixing bowl
• Two medium sized heavy bottom pot or saucepan
• Wooden spoon and/or whisk
• Glasses or ramekins – something to pour and serve your Panna Cotta in
• Measuring cups
• Measuring spoons
• Silpat or wax paper or parchment paper
• Baking sheet
• Small bowl
Giada’s Vanilla 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)
1/3 cup (80 ml) honey
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) 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. 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, 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.
Hope you love it!

Chocolate Panna Cotta
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit
1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
2 cups (480 ml) whipping cream (30+% butterfat)
½ cup (115 gm) (4 oz) sugar
¾ cup (145 gm)(5 oz) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) vanilla extract
o Pour milk into a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over the top, set aside for 2-5 minutes.
o Place a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir in cream, sugar and vanilla. Bring to a low boil.
o Add chocolate and whisk until melted. Whisk the milk/gelatin mixture into chocolate cream mixture. Whisk until gelatin has dissolved.
o Transfer to ramekins, or nice glasses for serving.
o Cover and chill at least 8 hours, or overnight

Nestle Florentine Cookies
Recipe from the cookbook “Nestle Classic Recipes”, and their website.

2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm) (5.3 oz) unsalted butter
2 cups (480 ml) (160 gm) (5 2/3 oz) quick oats
1 cup (240 ml) (230 gm) (8 oz) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (160 ml) (95 gm) (3⅓ oz) plain (all purpose) flour
1/4 cup (60 ml) dark corn syrup
1/4 cup (60 ml) whole milk
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
o Preheat oven to moderately hot 375°F (190°C) (gas mark 5). Prepare your baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper.
o Melt butter in a medium saucepan, then remove from the heat.
o 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.
o Bake in preheated oven for 6-8 minutes, until cookies are golden brown. Cool completely on the baking sheets.
o 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).
o 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).
o 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).
Note: The next two recipes are just examples – If you want gelée to go with your Panna Cotta, feel free to use them, or find other gelée recipes to use.
Coffee Gelée
Adapted from this recipe in Gourmet Magazine
2 cups (480 ml) good quality brewed coffee
1/4 cup (60 ml) hot water + 2 tablespoons (30 ml) cold water
1/2 cup (120 ml) (115 gm) (4 oz) granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons (7½ ml) (3½ gm) (1/8 oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract
o Place granulated sugar and 1/4 c. hot water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stir until the sugar has dissolved.
o Sprinkle gelatin over 2 Tablespoons cold water and let it soften 2 minutes or so.
o Stir the coffee, sugar, hot water, and vanilla into a small metal bowl, add gelatin mixture and stir well until gelatin has dissolved. If pouring over Panna Cotta, be sure that this mixture is no longer hot, it will melt Panna Cotta if it is, let it come to room temperature.
Fruit Gelée
Recipe by Mallory
1 cup (240 ml) (230 gm) (8 oz) fruit (strawberries, raspberries, mango, blackberry, etc.)
*Note: Certain fruits interact with gelatin and stop it gelling like pineapple and kiwi etc.
3 tablespoons (45 ml) water
1/4 cup (60 ml) (60 gm) (2 oz) granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons (7½ ml) (3½ gm) (1/8 oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
o Sprinkle gelatin over water.
o 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.
o Remove from heat and allow to cool (close to room temp, again, if you’re planning on layering on pouring on top of your Panna Cotta, a hot mixture will also heat up your chilled Panna Cotta).

Additional Information: I’m going to send you to a few websites to check out their beautiful pictures, inspiration as to what you could do to garnish/play with your Panna Cotta a bit, so check them out!
Desserts for Breakfast : Honey, Lavendar & Pomegranate Panna Cotta
Cafe Lynnylu: Panna Cotta w/ Coffee Syrup
Tell Me What You Saw (flickr) : Honey Jelly Panna Cotta
A video showing you how Panna Cotta is made (not our exact recipe mind you)

7 responses to “Panna Cotta & Nestle Florentine Cookies (Daring Baker Challenge February 2011)

  1. Look at all those layers! That must have taken a lot of patience, and I give you major props for trying so many different flavors with this. I feel like a slacker now for just doing one flavor, but I’d never made panna cotta before so I was just excited to give it a whirl 🙂

  2. Whoa! You went all out with those different flavors and layers! They all sound/look amazing! I stuck with just two layers as I was pressed for time. Looks wonderful!

  3. Wow – I can’t believe how many versions you made, and how many flavors, too! All those layers! Every version looks amazing, all of those layers are impressive, and everything looks and sounds delicious. Really impressive job on this challenge!

  4. WOW look at all those layers marvellous work and the number of versions you did is outstanding well done on this challenge I love idea of the Asian flavoured panna cotta inspiring.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  5. This is so amazing. Those layers really made me impressed. I try to make this but I think I should be ready for my long patience since I am sure that I will try and try and try to make it perfect. LOL. Thanks for sharing this awesome recipe.

  6. These are so amazing and look at those layers. Those layers are full of flavors and that makes the whole thing so delicious. Before trying just remember that making this recipe will surely test your patience. LOL.

  7. What an amazing idea to use so many layers with so many different colors and flavours!
    I’m sure that tasted great, and it looks superbe!

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