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Sunday, February 27, 2011

February 2011 Daring Bakers - Panna Cotta with Florentines

I love being part of Daring Bakers, because every month what we're making is a surprise. When I logged in Feb 1, and saw the challenge was multi-part: panna cotta with gelee and Florentine cookies it was a definite surprise to me. I didn't know what any of them were! 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 vanilla panna cotta, fruit gelee, and sandwiched florentines. The directions are lengthy, so I'll just share the pdf to them here. The only change I made was in the florentine cookies, we try not to purchase corn syrup in our house, so I subbed brown sugar and water for the dark corn syrup.

I was a bit nervous about the amount of whole milk and cream in these recipes, two ingredients I try to avoid.

Making the gelee was a breeze. I used a frozen berry assortment from Trader Joe's (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries). The gelee on its own tasted excellent, and I think I'll use this technique again. It was very pretty, the raspberries broke down into a deep red liquid, and then the strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries popped out.

The panna cotta wasn't difficult to make, I was worried I would have trouble. I like baking, but whisking milk makes me nervous. It came together pretty easily though. I only struggled with getting those pretty lines of panna cotta and gelee like everyone else. I ended up with fruit on the bottom gelee, and they still sort of swirled together in places.

The florentine dough came together well. When it came time to bake the cookies, I realized I'd caught myself without enough parchment paper for all the cookies. At a holiday cookie exchange in December, one girl said you could substitute wax paper for parchment paper when baking. I was skeptical, but figured this was a good moment to try. I grabbed my worst looking baking tray, in case it ended up with wax melted to it forever. The end result was that the tray was fine, but the cookies stuck to the wax paper, and there was no removing them. I ended up trashing one sheet of cookies.

When I went to sandwich the remaining florentines, they seemed so thin to sandwich. I think next time I'd try to put the chocolate into the dough, and have it bake away with the rest of the ingredients.

Once again, Daring Bakers challenged me to step out of my comfort zone. The end tasting results: the panna cotta with fruit gelee was good, but knowing how much fat and how many calories were in it from all the cream and whole milk - it kept me from going wild with enjoyment. I'll make the fruit gelee again, but never panna cotta with whole milk and heavy cream.

The florentine cookies were good, and I think it is a recipe I'll play around with in the future. Thanks for the challenge Daring Bakers!


  1. I love those mixed berries from TJ's...I eat them frozen right from the bag...great idea to use them for your gelee! Your panna cotta and cookies look wonderful...weren't some of those others with diagonal lines amazing? I was happy just the two layers turning out OK! Happy Sunday~

  2. Yes! I can't believe how perfect some of them look.

  3. I love the "fruit on the bottom" panna cotta! Looks as beautiful to me as those fancy layers. :) Great job substituting for the corn syrup in the florentines, too - looks like it worked well, because your florentines look lacy and beautiful and delicious. Great job.

  4. OMG that looks so pretty I love them both well done and yes waxed paper cannot be subs for parchment sorry to hear about the wasted cookies and yes again this isn't a low fat dessert superb work.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  5. Your fruit layer at the bottom looks good!! It is a long process if you want the layer to be straight: you should refrigerate the fruit gelee then when it resembles Jello, pour cooled Panna Cotta on top. I also found Panna Cotta to be quite heavy and couldn't finish one serving by myself!

  6. Beautiful I love the fruit layer on the botton these cups look so yummy and beautiful. I also substituted the corn syrup, I used honey insted

  7. Fruit on the bottom panna cotta sounds really good to me, and it looks great too! It is super-rich, though, which is why I never use heavy cream in it. Then I can delude myself into believing I can eat it with abandon.

  8. Daring Bakers for certain! I think of myself as a baker, but this was so far out of my comfort zone - it felt good to read it made you a little nervous too. Kudos to you for picking up the gauntlet and making it happen!

  9. I love how the panna cotta turned out, it's pretty.