This months Bakers Challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She requested two recipes actually, one for the cool and creamy Panna cotta, the other, a sweet,crunchy florentine cookie. I served this for dessert a few weeks ago and it was a great light ending for the linguine and clam sauce dinner.
Panna Cotta is an Italian eggless custard dessert. The literal translation is “cooked cream”. Except the cream isn’t really cooked. It’s really just warmed to dissolve the sugar and gelatin. It is very similar to Blancmange, with the major difference being that one is thickened with gelatin and the latter with corn starch. I haven’t made Panna cotta since last New Years Eve so I very was glad to be able to revisit this dessert. It is quite simple to make, the variations are endless, and it has great “mouth feel”. I think I will be making this quite often from now on. For this challenge I made a cappuccino style Panna cotta. It was constructed of three layers; a coffee jelly, a cinnamon Panna cotta, and a vanilla bean sour cream Panna cotta. Panna Cotta is typically unmolded but I chose not to do it for this version. If you want to unmold your Panna cotta just dip the bottom of your mold into warm water for a minute run a sharp knife around the edge, then flip it over into your serving dish. It sounds scarier than it is, trust me.
The cookie chosen is a florentine. I make these at Christmas time and never posted the recipe so I am happy to finally get around to that. I made two different kinds, the traditional version with candied orange peel and almonds (my favorite!) and also a dried cherry hazelnut, also a winner. I think dried fruit and nuts taste great together so I imagine any combination would be terrific. I was thinking maybe dried blueberry and brazil nut with a drizzle of white chocolate. Maybe next time…
CAPPUCCINO PANNA COTTA
This requires time for each layer to set up so either make the day before start it in the morning. The actual work time for each layer is less than 10 minutes.
Coffee jelly layer
3 scant tsp gelatin powder (I used Knox)
2 Tablespoons warm water
2 cups strong brewed coffee (you could also use espresso)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Place the gelatin and warm water in a small dish; stir to combine. Set is aside to soften while you prepare the rest. Place the coffee and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Bring it up to boil, turn off the heat and take if off the element. Stir in the softened gelatin and stir until all of the gelatin is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Let the mixture cool for about 15 minutes then divide it up 6 serving dishes. I used small glasses but use whatever you have on hand. Place these onto a baking tray and transfer into the fridge. Let set up at least one hour before the next layer.
Cinnamon Panna Cotta Layer
1 3/4 tsp gelatin
3 Tablespoons warm water
1 1/4 cup heavy cream (33-36%)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
pinch ground cinnamon
3 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
Heat the cream, cinnamon sticks, pinch ground cinnamon and brown sugar over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar (do not let it boil). Turn off the heat and let it steep for 20 minutes.
Place the gelatin and warm water into a small dish; stir to combine. Let it soften for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, gently heat the cream back up. Off the heat, stir in the gelatin until it is completely dissolved, about 3 minutes. Remove the cinnamon sticks . Pour into Pyrex measuring cup or other lipped dish for easier pouring. Take the coffee jelly our of the fridge and equally pour the Panna cotta over the coffee jellies (it’s about 1/4 c (2 oz) per dish). Place the dishes back into the fridge to set up
Vanilla Bean Sour Cream Panna Cotta Layer
1 cup 1/2 & 1/2 cream (10%)
1 vanilla bean (or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract)
1/3 cup sour cream (14%)
1 1/2 tsp gelatin
3 tablespoons warm water
Place the water and gelatin in a small dish to soften; set aside. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla pod and place into a medium saucepan along with the pod. Add the cream and sugar and heat over medium- low heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Take off the heat; remove the vanilla pod (rinse it off and toss into your sugar bowl). Add the sour cream and whisk until it is smooth and creamy. Sir in the softened gelatin and stir for a few minutes to make sure that the gelatin is completely dissolved and incorporated.
Take the jellies out of the fridge and gently pour the vanilla sour cream Panna cotta over the cinnamon layer, dividing equally amongst the serving dishes. Place back into the fridge and let set up for 2 hours before serving.
Makes 36 cookies
Preheat your oven to 350F
1/2 cup heavy cream (33-36%)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups finely chopped almonds
1/2 cup diced candied orange peel
Bittersweet chocolate to drizzle (optional)
Place the nuts and fruit in a mixing bowl. In a small saucepan, add the cream and sugar and bring to a boil. Cook for 1 minute. Take it off the heat and pour over the nuts and fruit. Add the flour and stir.
Drop by teaspoons onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Flatten the cookies slightly using a wet spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake for 8 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before removing from the baking sheet to a cooling rack. Let cool completely. Melt some chocolate and place in a disposable pastry bag or a small ziploc bag with a corner snipped off. Drizzle of the cookies. Place in the fridge for a few minutes to set the chocolate.These cookies will last about 5 days (if you don’t eat them all) but they do not freeze well.
This cookie recipe is from the Gourmet Magazine Cookie Book