Sunday, February 27, 2011

Daring Bakers: Panna Cotta and Florentine Cookies

Welcome to my first Daring Bakers post! (not to be confused with Daring Cooks). This time around, you'll be getting two recipes for the price of one!! Panna Cotta + Florentine Cookies. This month's challenge was posed by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen and it's downright brilliant, if you ask me. This is good stuff people.

Panna Cotta. I was just going to follow the recipe that was posted in the Daring Bakers recipe forums, but I found a coconut panna cotta recipe from (guess where??!!) Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Cooking. If you haven't already bought this book, you need to. At the very least, follow her wonderful food blog 101 Cookbooks. (Ok, ok. I'm finished with my shameless plugs now!)

It just so happened that I had a can of coconut milk in my pantry that I had picked up at Trader Joe's months ago, so it was basically a shoe in for me to use Heidi's recipe. I was really happy with the way it turned out and how EASY it is to make, but if you're using agar flakes, not will probably need to filter them out if they don't dissolve fully. Mine didn't and they ended up being a hard layer at the bottom of the panna cotta. Whoops. I don't see any reason not to use gelatin instead of agar, unless you're strictly vegan. 

Coconut Panna Cotta with Red Wine Syrup
adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking

1 can light coconut milk
2 ¼ cups organic milk
⅓ cup demara sugar
2 tbsp agar flakes

½ cup red wine
3 tbsp demara sugar

Lightly oil 4 or 5 ramekins and set aside. Mix all ingredients in a saucepan and let sit for 10 minutes to activate the agar flakes. Then, slowly bring mixture to a simmer and let agar flakes dissolve. If the flakes do not dissolve, strain through a fine sieve, pressing the flakes through as well. Pour into ramekins to chill and set for at least an hour.

While panna cotta is chilling, boil red wine and sugar in a skillet or saucepan (I just used the same pan that I used for the panna cotta!) until the bubbles get thick and its quantity is reduced by half - about ¼ cup. Pour into bowl and let syrup cool completely.

Slide a knife around the edge of each ramekin to plate panna cotta. Drizzle red wine syrup over the top of the panna cotta and enjoy!

Florentine Cookie Sandwiches with Nutella
recipe adapted from the Daring Baker’s forums

The original recipe called for quick or instant oats, but since I didn’t have any I just used regular rolled oats. The result was a cookie that was ridiculously thicker than it was supposed to be, but they were still delicious. I might recommend reducing the amount of oats, if you’re going for the real thing, because I had to add more milk to thin the cookie batter a bit. Other substitutions from the original recipe: molasses instead of corn syrup, but you can also use honey for a lighter flavor and color. Also, goat milk instead of regular cow’s milk, because that’s what I had, it definitely adds a richness to the cookie!

⅔ cup unsalted, clarified butter
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup demara sugar
⅔ cup whole wheat (or all purpose) flour
¼ cup blackstrap molasses
¼ cup goat milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pinch of salt


Preheat oven to moderately hot 375°F (190°C). Prepare your baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper. Melt the butter in a saucepan, then remove from heat. To the melted butter add oats, sugar, flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla, and salt. Mix well.
The mixture should look something like this (though, mine did not-it was MUCH thicker)
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. 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 nutella on the bottom/flat side of your cookie, sandwiching another (flat end) cookie atop the nutella.

Peace, Love & Bagels,

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