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February “Daring Bakers Challenge”: Panna Cotta and Florentine cookies

February 27, 2011

Hi all!

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 will admit that I had never made either panna cotta (nor had I eaten it, although I’d had its cousins, creme brulee and crema catalana) or Florentine cookies.  Still, the recipes seemed easy enough, so I endeavored to make both at once and during the same weekend I baked eight 8″ chocolate cake rounds for an up-coming project as well as three dozen cupcakes for my middle child’s birthday, made liege waffles (see previous post) for Sunday breakfast AND Kobe burgers with homemade mac ‘n’ cheese for dinner.  Phew!

Needless to say, my kitchen was a busy place to be, but well worth it in the end for my family because they got some seriously good eats out of it!

Here are some pics of my Florentine cookies with my vanilla panna cotta, as well as the recipes I used for both.  As much as I love Giada DiLaurentiis (hers was the suggested recipe), I went with a panna cotta recipe that used real vanilla beans rather than honey, but I did use the Nestle recipe for the Florentines.

I hope you enjoy the pics and the recipes too!

Happy baking!



My Florentine cookies all on their own.

My panna cotta all on its own - the mason jar is a cute serving dish for it!

The final presentation - a beautiful pairing of pannacotta with mixed berries and Florentine cookies!



Easy Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta

(Recipe from Chef E. Michael Reidt and Food &


1 quart (4 cups) heavy cream

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped

1 tablespoon unflavored powdered gelatin*

3 tablespoons of water

Mixed berries, for serving (I prefer fresh strawberries and blueberries)


  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds. Bring the mixture just to a simmer over moderate heat. Remove from the heat, cover and let steep for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand until evenly moistened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Uncover the cream mixture and bring just to a simmer over moderately high heat. Remove from heat, add the gelatin and stir until dissolved. Remove the vanilla bean and save for another use. Pour the panna cotta mixture into eight 4-ounce ramekins and let cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the panna cotta is set but still jiggly, at least 3 hours. Serve in the ramekins, with berries.

*I used Knox brand, sold in a white box in the baking section of most supermarkets.

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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) (3⅓ 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).

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