Sunday, February 27, 2011

February 2011 Daring Baker Challenge - Panna Cotta with Florentine Cookies

Blackout Panna Cotta! Why is it blackout panna cotta, you may wonder. Well, I was in the middle of making it - had the glasses in the freezer so the panna cotta would look nice on the raspberries, when the power went out. I prepared the layers by candlelight.

I'm only giving you one picture, because I love that picture. It's a little too yellow, but I just love that pic. I think it may have something to do with my deep love of that crystal. I have a thing for crystal and glass. If I had my way, I would have tons of it.

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.

Phew! Glad we got that out of the way.

On to the challenge. I chose to make mine with coconut milk. Why? Well, some of you know with my long and stormy relationship with milk. I love it, it hates me. I didn't feel like risking it this time, so I decided to make a coconut milk version. I chose to flavor it with coconut milk caramel, because I love the stuff, and this was a great excuse to make some more!

The Panna Cotta was smooth, and rich, and had just enough gelatin in it. It was a great contrast to my raspberry sauce, since neither were very sweet.

I am happy I got to do this challenge. It also gave me a great opportunity for a rematch with my nemesis, the Florentine cookie. I had tried to do them for Christmas...and it wasn't a success. They tasted great, but no matter how many I put on a pan, then ran together into one big blob...and the rest of the batter cooled and stuck to the bottom of the pan. That stuff was like glue! This recipe, I didn't have the same challenges. Well, the first batch did all run together, but I discovered no matter how little I think the batter is, cut it in 1/2, and the cookies will be a reasonable size and won't be one big blob.

Thanks again for the great challenge, and I look forward to the next one!

For a printable recipe, click here.

Coconut milk caramel Panna Cotta (inspired by Giada’s Vanilla Panna Cotta)

2 cups coconut milk

½ cup coconut milk caramel (You can make this, recipe below)

2 cups heavy cream

1 Tablespoon powdered gelatin (one package)

1 Tablespoons brown sugar

Pinch salt

½ t. vanilla extract

  1. Pour the coconut 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, caramel, sugar, and pinch of salt. Making sure the mixture doesn't boil, continue to heat and stir occasionally until the sugar and caramel have dissolved 5-7 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, add vanilla, 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.

Coconut Milk Caramel

2 14 oz cans coconut milk

1 ¾ c. brown sugar (I use dark brown sugar)

1 t. salt

1 t. vanilla extract

½” fresh ginger (optional)

Combine milk, brown sugar, ginger, and salt in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Heat until boiling, stirring occasionally. Cook for 30 minutes at a low boil, until mixture has been reduced by ½. Remove from heat, and add salt and vanilla, and remove ginger. Let cool and store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Raspberry Sauce

1 pint raspberries (can be fresh or frozen)

1 t. lemon juice

1 cup raspberry jam (I use seedless)

1 T. raspberry liquer or cassis

Combine all ingredients in a food processor, and mix until well blended. Taste and adjust sweetness to your liking.

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) (3 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.

1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan, then remove from the heat.

2. 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.

3. Bake in preheated oven for 6-8 minutes, until cookies are golden brown. Cool completely on the baking sheets.

4. 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).

5. 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).

6. 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).


  1. I'm glad your florentine cookies were such as a success. So have you won that battle or the war? I love your panna cotta, especially in the crystal. It is a nice, classy touch. Looks delicious!

  2. Wow looks fabulous and wonderful flavors... Absolutely love it. Great work on this challenge.