The Daring Bakers make Panna Cotta and Florentine Cookies!


I cannot believe how fast this month has flown by. Really. My Dad always teases me about how fast time seems to go, always saying its like the down-hill slope of a rollercoaster. One second you are at the top, looking out over the scenery, enjoying the peace. The next second you are hurtling down towards the ground screaming your head off. Well, I may not be screaming, but time definitely is going by really fast. Most time a whole day seems like an afternoon. It doesn't help that the only thing I want to do is sit on the floor and laugh and squeal and play. 
Hey, hold still while I climb over you, ok?

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.

Seriously, how have I never made panna cotta before now?!?! I've always heard about it, seen it on other blogs, but never thought much about it. I can't even begin to guess what was going on in my head, how I could have passed this by. This stuff is awesome!

Pure velvet in the mouth, its just soo smooth and creamy. I want to eat it every single day. This is the kind of dessert where you take tiny little hummingbird sized bites, to savor every single second of eating it.

I am dead tired of winter now, and in a pleading homage to spring, I chose to make lemon panna cotta with blueberry sauce, but apparently I completely lost my brain and forgot to strain the sauce, so it had a bit of a chunky texture to it. My parents said they rather liked it because it was such a textural difference from the panna cotta, but I think when I do it again I will strain it to make it at least a little smoother.  I cannot wait to make this again!

Lemon Panna Cotta with Berries
2 Lemons
2 meyer lemons or 2 small lemons
2 3/4 cups whipping cream
1/2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise or 1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
1 (1/4 ounce) envelope unflavored gelatin
2 cups fresh strawberries, halved
2 tablespoons sugar

Directions:
Squeeze enough juice from lemons to equal 1/4 cup; reserve 1 lemon rind. (I apprently didn't read this step correctly and I zested my lemon rind. It turned out fine, so you can choose for yourself whether you want lemon zest or to remove the rind later for ultra smoothness!)
In medium saucepan combine 2 cups cream, the vanilla bean pod, the reserved lemon rind, and the 1/2 cup sugar.
Heat over medium-low heat until mixture comes to a simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar.
Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, place remaining 3/4 cup cream in small bowl; sprinkle with gelatin.
Let stand 5 minutes for gelatin to soften.
Stir softened gelatin into saucepan; return to medium heat and cook until gelatin is dissolved.
Stir in the 1/4 cup lemon juice.
Strain to remove vanilla bean pod and lemon rind.
Scrape the vanilla beans from pod.
Stir vanilla beans into gelatin mixture.
Divide among four 10-ounce or six 6-ounce custard cups.
Cover; chill at least 4 hours or until set.

In medium bowl combine the berries of your choice and 2 tablespoons sugar; let stand at least 5 minutes, stirring twice.
Serve in custard cups topped with strawberries or dip bottoms of custard cups into hot water for 10 seconds and loosen sides.
Unmold onto dessert plates; serve with strawberries.

The second part of our challenge, Nestle Florentine Cookies, I honestly completely fogot about until two days ago when I sat down to write this blog post. To the kitchen!!!

These cookies are great! They are kind of like a fancy chocolate chip cookie. Crunchy and chewy at the same time (not even sure how that is even possible!), lots of great chocolate, and a wonderful base flavor. They are fun little sandwich cookies to make, and were very easy to whip up.


Nestle Florentine Cookies

Recipe from the cookbook “Nestle Classic Recipes”, and their website.
Ingredients:
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
1½ cups (360 ml) (250 gm) (9 oz) dark or milk chocolate
Directions:
Preheat oven to moderately hot 375°F (190°C) (gas mark 5). Prepare your baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper.
     
  1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan, then remove from the heat.
  2.  
  3. 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.
  4.  
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 6-8 minutes, until cookies are golden brown. Cool completely on the baking sheets.
  6.  
  7. 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).
  8.  
  9. 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).
  10.  
  11. 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).

11 comments:

  1. Everything looks so good! I was considering making a panna cotta for our Italian Valentine's dinner. Glad to see it is possible!

    The chunky blueberries looks gorgeous, even if that isn't the way you meant them to be. This seems like the perfect thing to eat sitting under an ivy covered pergola on a warm summer afternoon when there's just a hint of a breeze.

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  2. I know what you mean about how can I never have made this before!! I love your summery combination of lemon and blueberry. And your florentines look so thin and crisp!! And I agree - playing on the floor and squealing sounds like a very appealing way to spend the day! :)

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  3. This look s good Jenni. I like the idea of the chunkier compote. And the Florentines look great too.

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  4. I love the sound of blueberry sauce with the panna cotta. I will definitely have to attempt to make panna cotta again! I do agree that the cookies were fabulous!

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  5. Gorgeous! I love the photo of the panna cotta on the spoon - makes me want to eat it even though I don't really like panna cotta all that much. :) Love the cookie shots too. And of course, the pic of "Baby Summiting Mount Pup" is priceless!

    Nice job!!

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  6. Very well done! That panna cotta looks just so irresistible.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  7. Lemon panna cotta with berries sounds delicious! The florentines look yummy, great job!

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  8. Lemon and blueberry sound like an amazing combination and it looks delicious too! I like the idea of having different textures in the dessert. Your florentines look yummy--it's amazing how everyone got such different results.
    :)

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  9. I'm so with you on the panna cotta being amazing and wondering why I haven't made it as often (last time was about a year ago). Love your combo of lemon and berries and the photos of those plump, saucy berries atop the creamy panna cotta are mouth watering. Fantastic job, Jenni :)

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  10. The sandwiches look delicious and the lemon panna cotta sounds fresh and spring-y.:)

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  11. you panna cotta looks so inviting! great job on this months challenge
    Best- Sandie

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