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.
Normally, one Daring Baker challenge a month is all I can keep up with, so I was a little concerned to learn this month's challenge had two components. Once I read the recipes, I breathed a sigh of relief. I actually made both of these before work. On the same day. And wrote the post before midnight on the posting day. Wow.
The Florentines were so easy that you can throw them together at the last minute, melt the chocolate while they're baking and serve them within 20 minutes. I drizzled half with melted 61% Valrhona (sorry, Nestle) and half with melted gianduja. I found the texture and aesthetics much better after they sat for a couple of hours--the extra time allowed the butter to be reabsorbed in the cookie. Mine spread like crazy but none of my tasters seemed to mind. If you wanted to, you could drape the warm cookies over a rolling pin like tuiles.
The panna cotta was a little more work but not a crazy amount. I opted for the chocolate panna cotta rather than the vanilla one for obvious reasons, and almost made a strawberry gelée but the strawberries were in the garage freezer and it was 6 AM and raining. Yes, I'm lazy. Enough said. I made the coffee gelée first so it could cool while I made the panna cotta. I'm not sure if my gelée turned out the right way as it was more liquée (not an actual word) than gelée. Not so fluid that you could drink it, just a very soft jelly-like substance. The practical joker in me filed that away for a hot summer day...
Because I was in a rush, I didn't do a great job of melting the chocolate so the finished panna cotta had tiny bits of chocolate, almost like a straticella, but no one complained. Anything with chocolate is almost a guaranteed hit here with coffee a close second. The finished panna cotta was a-mazing! I used Valrhona 70% for the panna cotta. It was my first time making panna cotta but it definitely won't be my last. The coffee gelée was a fun technique to try but I think it distracted from the panna cotta and I would skip it next time.
Thanks, Mallory, for picking this challenge for us. I can't wait to see what the other Daring Bakers did with this one (I fully expect wildly creative flavors and presentations).
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
Pour milk into a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over the top, set aside for 2-5 minutes.
Place a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir in cream, sugar and vanilla.
Bring to a low boil.
Add chocolate and whisk until melted. Whisk the milk/gelatin mixture into chocolate cream mixture. Whisk until gelatin has dissolved.
Transfer to ramekins, or nice glasses for serving. 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
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 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).
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 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).
Adapted from 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
Place granulated sugar and 1/4 c. hot water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stir until the sugar has dissolved.
Sprinkle gelatin over 2 tablespoons cold water and let it soften 2 minutes or so.
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.