Thursday, March 3, 2011

Daring Bakers 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 made the Panna Cotta as asked, but refuse to support Nestle, especially not when what they are attempting to pass off as Florentines are actually oat cookies dipped in chocolate.  So I made Florentines instead.

Panna Cotta turns out to be close to the easiest thing in the world, which is nice, because it is also delicious.  One trick:  I used Unhomogenised milk, and probably should not have, as it is more likely to separate than your standard milks.


1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
1 packet (7 gm)  unflavored powdered gelatin
3 cups (720 ml) cream
1/3 cup (80 ml) honey
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) 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 also layered the Panna Cotta with a Coffee Gelee.  This is easy enough to make, i prepared some coffee (500mL), added sugar, sprinkled gelatine over it, let it soak in a bit, then stirred it in until dissolved.  When cool but not set, poured on top of the Panna Cotta to create a layer, which countracted the sweetness of the dessert a bit.  Important thing to remember, is to let the Panna Cotta set before layering onto it.

The florentines were a bit more work, but again, really not much.  Because, as I said, I don't consider oat cookies to be Florentines, I made real florentines.  Equal parts Brazilnuts, Hazelnuts and almonds (150gm of each), roughly chopped (I used a food Processor, giving both big chunks and some powder), with cranberries, glace cherries, mixed peel, and coconut shreds.   (About a cup of each).  Mix together in a big bowl, add 3/4 cup of flour, stir to coat everything, then heat a cup of honey with some sugar until the sugar dissolves, add to the nut mixture, and combine.  Press the whole thing into a walled baking tray and cook for 35-40 minutes, until cooked and browning.  The mixture will hold together much better after cooking than it does initially.  Once cooled, pour melted chocolate over the top, let set, then cut into squares.

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