Sunday, February 27, 2011

Daring Baker's Challenge: February

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 my first challenge as a Daring Baker. I always wanted to try new foods and learn new techniques and joining Daring Bakers seemed the most fun way to do so. I don’t venture much out of comfort zone so I don’t always like to try new recipes unless they resemble something familiar.

I first made the Florentines as anything with involving chocolate and oatmeal can’t be bad. These cookies are so yummy and so very easy to make. They do need to be baked on parchment or silpat which posed a problem for me as I had neither. I tried baking on foil. I ruined the first batch. I promptly went out and got some parchment paper. The sticking problem resolved itself immediately and my cookies did not stick. These cookies also spread out quite a bit so space accordingly! I melted semi-sweet chocolate chips and sandwiched the cookies just as the recipe states. I also sandwiched a few with some Nutella. Delicious!

The Panna Cotta was easy enough to make. I hard time deciding what flavors I wanted to try. I decided to make mine with vanilla & honey flavored panna cotta topped with a blood orange gelée. Honestly, I couldn’t sand the finished product and only ate a couple spoonfuls. Mr. Penguin, on the other hand, ate it up. I didn’t like the taste of honey and really it just seemed like solid milk. Milk and honey bubble bath is wonderful. Milk and honey dessert, not so much.

I can’t wait for the next challenge. I just hope it’s something I’ll like eating. I’m sure Panna Cotta is a wonderful dessert, I just need to find some flavors I like better. Maybe something more chocolaty!

The recipes used were provided by the Host:

Giada's Vanilla Panna Cotta


1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon (one packet) unflavored powdered gelatin
3 cups whipping cream (30+% butterfat)
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
pinch of salt

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. Remove from heat, allow it to sit for a few minutes to cool slightly. Then pour into the glass or ramekin.
  5. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. Add garnishes and serve.
I followed recipe exactly, making no changes, but I did top the Panna Cotta with a Blood Orange Gelée.  I just substituted blood orange juice for the fruit in Mallory's Recipe:

Fruit Gelée Recipe by Mallory


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

  1. Sprinkle gelatin over water.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
Now for the cookies!  Again, I followed recipe exactly and I highly recommend not to cook these without the parchment or silpat.

Nestle Florentine Cookies

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

2/3 cup unsalted butter
2 cups quick oats
1 cup  granulated sugar
2/3 cup plain (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

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Prepare your baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper. 
  2. 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 lined baking sheets. Spread thinly with rubber spatula. (I actually found that wetting my finger with a little water and pushing them flat worker better)
  3. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets on wire racks.

As a garnish I made sugared orange peel.  These are pretty simple to make.  Just peel an orange, remove the white pith and boil in some water.  You'll want to drain and reboil a couple times to remove some of the bitterness.  Then boil peels in a simple syrup.  When done, drain peels on a rack for a couple hours.  The toss in sugar.  Store in airtight container. If you need step-by-step directions I recommend this recipe on Dianasaur Dishes.  Her blog has beautiful pictures and easy to follow directions.

No comments:

Post a Comment