Sunday, February 27, 2011

Panna Cotta and Florentines - Daring Bakers February 2011

I am now a Daring Baker!

After repeatedly seeing the amazing things made by Not Quite Nigella and Ria, I was inspired to try it out. I love to bake and the unique treats made would provide me with a challenge. I'd get to make things I haven't heard of before (like Florentines!) and be part of a wonderful online community. What's not to love?

So keep an eye, on the 27th of each month the daring treats will be published.

The challenge for this month was hosted by MissMallory of a sofa in the kitchen, who decided on panna cotta and Florentines. I had never made panna cotta before and had never even heard of Florentines, so it was a great beginning. I had great ambitions to make a jelly of one flavour to work with the flavour of the panna cotta, but I couldn't find a recipe for banana jelly and I knew the month was going to get away from me, so I decided to start small and focus on chocolate panna cotta. I followed David Lebovitz's recipe for perfect panna cotta and added some chocolate so it wasn't a plain vanilla panna cotta. Here's how I made it:

Perfect (Chocolate) Panna Cotta (adapted from David Lebovitz)

2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 packet powdered gelatin
3 tbsp cold water
75g chopped dark chocolate

When I was thinking about flavour combinations with chocolate, I decided not to go with orange. I'm not a fan of the chocolate/orange pairing. But I didn't read the label on the chocolate very well:

... so chocolate/orange panna cotta it was!

Heat the heavy cream and sugar in a pot. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla

 and the chopped chocolate, stirring until all the chocolate is melted.


 Lightly oil 4 custard cups with a neutral tasting oil.

Sprinkle the gelatin over cold water in a medium sized bowl and let stand for 5-10 minutes.

this stuff gets pretty solid!

Pour the warm panna cotta mixture over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Divide the panna cotta mixture into the prepared cups then chill them until firm, at least 2 hours.

And there was cookies, which makes everything better :) The challenge said 'Florentines', so I looked in my favorite dessert cookbook, and there was a recipe. I just didn't realize until composing this post that the Daring Bakers used a different recipe. I hope I don't get kicked out for making a completely different biscuit :S

quarter recipe Pâte Sucrée (I'll post this recipe another time)
90 grams sugar
1 1/2 tbsp golden syrup (or light corn syrup)
50 grams unsalted butter
40 grams honey
52 ounces heavy cream
zest of half an orange
125 grams sliced almonds
40 grams candied pineapple, diced

Combine the sugar and corn syrup with 3 tbsp of water in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, for about 4 minutes, or until the mixture begins to caramelize.
Stir in the butter and honey and bring to a boil. Immediately add the cream and zest and again bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the mixture reaches 124C (255F) on a candy thermometer.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the almonds and candied pineapple. Grab your blind-baked Pâte Sucrée. Pour the hot mixture into the pastry and spread into an even layer using an offset spatula. Bake at 177C (350F) for about 12 minutes or until the candied mixture is bubbly (mine were done after 7 minutes).

 This was a little small so it was a taster :)

Set the pan on a wire rack to cool, then using a sharp knife cute into 1 inch squares. Serve or store, airtight, at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Verdict: I wasn't mad about the panna cotta. We went out for dinner a few nights ago and I ordered the strawberry panna cotta on the menu to see how different it was from mine and I didn't like it either. I know David Lebovitz is amazing with desserts, so I think its just my taste.

The Florentines, however, were fantastic. They were a lovely, delicate yet flavourful biscuit that A couldn't get enough of. He said they were perfect comfort cookies. I also served them to the youngest Chef to ever win a Michelin star (any idea who he is??) and he took 3 of them, so they gotta be good. I was pretty proud :D

So tell me, do you like panna cotta? And have you ever tried this version of Florentines? And do you know which Chef I'm talking about?


Jenn x


  1. This looks fantastic! I haven't made panna cotta either, maybe I should become a daring baker too :) The florentines look so good and i bet your very own candied pineapple made them so much better. So funny you accidently bought orange chocolate (i'm not a fan either!) and i'm so pleased its fairtrade :)

  2. Welcome to the daring bakers! Your panna cotta looks delicious! I really want to try a chocolate version

  3. Cool creamy panna cotta yum! The daring baker sounds like a fun adventure. I'll have to check it out. Nice nails by the way! Mine only looked that nice the day I got married :)

  4. Hello and welcome to the Daring Bakers and congratulations on your first very successful challenge. Sorry to hear you are not a fan of panna cotta (you can't like everything) and wonderful to hear about the Florentines yours look so special I will have to try your recipe well done.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  5. You did a fabulous job with your panna cotta Jenn and welcome to Daring Bakers! Thanks for the very kind words too :) Sadly I didn't have time to do it this month but I'm looking forward to next month's! :D