February 11, 2011

Layered Vanilla Panna Cotta and Florentine Cookies!

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.

Unfortunately my computer broke recently (initially thought to be a virus but now it looks like a problem with the hard disk) and I dont have a quick access to any of my pictures! I am just heartbroken because I had put in a lot of effort into these layered pannacotta!! I am trying really hard to recover atleast some of my pictures! Lesson learned for not backing up stuff! Stay tuned and I will post them asap, if I am able to recover them!

UPDATE: I was able to get the pictures that I had posted on Daring Baker's forum. There were a lot of other pictures on my computer. I will try to recover them as soon as I get a chance.

VERDICT: This recipe for pannacotta is simply awesome!! I was not too excited when I first knew of the challenge, but this challenge resulted in such an awesome creamy smooth dessert, I fell in love with pannacotta all over again! The gelee that I made was using Pom Pomegranate-Blueberry juice and the tart gelee worked magic with the smooth creamy and dreamy pannacotta. You can work wonders with the presentation and will leave you satisfied with the results!

The florentine cookies were also amazing! Again, I was not too thrilled about oat cookies, but these were really delicious crisp cookies! The ease of prep work is also something to be mentioned! I will definitely make them again!

Giada's Vanilla Panna Cotta

1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
1 tablespoon (one packet) (15 ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
3 cups (720 ml) whipping cream (30+% butterfat)
1/3 cup (80 ml) honey
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) granulated sugar
pinch of salt


1. Pour the milk into a bowl or pot and sprinkle gelatin evenly and thinly over the milk (make sure the bowl/pot is
cold by placing the bowl/pot in the refrigerator for a few minutes before you start making the Panna Cotta). Let
stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.
2. Pour the milk into the saucepan/pot and place over medium heat on the stove. Heat this mixture until it is hot,
but not boiling, about five minutes. (I whisk it a few times at this stage).
3. Next, add the cream, honey, sugar, and pinch of salt. Making sure the mixture doesn't boil, continue to heat and
stir occasionally until the sugar and honey have dissolved 5-7 minutes.
4. Remove from heat, allow it to sit for a few minutes to cool slightly. Then pour into the glass or ramekin.
5. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. Add garnishes and serve.

Chocolate Panna Cotta:
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
2 cups (480 ml) whipping cream (30+% butterfat)
½ cup (115 gm) (4 oz) sugar
¾ cup (145 gm)(5 oz) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) vanilla extract
1. Pour milk into a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over the top, set aside for 2-5 minutes.
2. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir in cream, sugar and vanilla. Bring to a low boil.
3. Add chocolate and whisk until melted. Whisk the milk/gelatin mixture into chocolate cream mixture. Whisk until gelatin has dissolved.
4. Transfer to ramekins, or nice glasses for serving.
5. Cover and chill at least 8 hours, or overnight.

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
1/3 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).

Coffee Gelée:
Adapted from this recipe in Gourmet Magazine


2 cups (480 ml) good quality brewed coffee
1/4 cup (60 ml) hot water + 2 tablespoons (30 ml) cold water
1/2 cup (120 ml) (115 gm) (4 oz) granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons (7½ ml) (3½ gm) (1/8 oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract

1. Place granulated sugar and 1/4 c. hot water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stir until the sugar has dissolved.
2. Sprinkle gelatin over 2 Tablespoons cold water and let it soften 2 minutes or so.
3. Stir the coffee, sugar, hot water, and vanilla into a small metal bowl, add gelatin mixture and stir well until gelatin has dissolved. If pouring over Panna Cotta, be sure that this mixture is no longer hot, it will melt Panna Cotta if it is, let it come to room temperature.

Fruit Gelée:
Recipe by Mallory


1 cup (240 ml) (230 gm) (8 oz) fruit (strawberries, raspberries, mango, blackberry, etc.)
*Note: Certain fruits interact with gelatin and stop it gelling like pineapple and kiwi etc.
3 tablespoons (45 ml) water
1/4 cup (60 ml) (60 gm) (2 oz) granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons (7½ ml) (3½ gm) (1/8 oz) unflavored powdered gelatin

1. Sprinkle gelatin over water.
2. Place fruit and sugar in a small saucepan and simmer until sugar has dissolved. Now mix the gelatin into the strawberry mixture and stir until gelatin has dissolved.
3. Remove from heat and allow to cool (close to room temp, again, if you're planning on layering on pouring on top of your Panna Cotta, a hot mixture will also heat up your chilled Panna Cotta).

February 10, 2011

Croquembouche - revisited!!

Remember this, everybody!? Croquembouche was the DB challenge for the month of June, 2010. It was such fun making it the first time and sharing it with a bunch of friends! I decided to make it again during the holidays last year as a thankyou gift when we went over to a friend's for a dinner party!

I thought I would post the new pictures that we took of my second successful try and inspire those who haven't tried this before! Hope the pictures are tempting enough to give them a try!

Unadorned, but I still think they are super pretty!

Stay tuned for the DB challenge for this month! Have a great week!

February 2, 2011

Appetizers galore - 3 different appetizers to spice up your party!

Good morning everyone!

I would like to share with you a few appetizers that I had tried for a couple of parties around my daughter's birthday time and Christmas! I came across these recipes on allrecipes.com and kraftrecipes.com and decided to give them a try since they had very high ratings and awesome reviews! I first made them for my lil one's birthday party! Eventhough we had a whole Indian dinner planned afterwards, I had to have a lot of appetizers for our guests (I love trying out new ones!)! So I chose the 7-layer dip, bacon wrapped smokies and cheesy spinach-artichoke dip as my three new try-outs, along with others like meatballs, peanuts, chips and salsa and so on! They were simple, easy and had our guests rave about how awesome they were! I had recipe requests from our guests!

The preparation of 7-layer dip went without a hitch, eventhough mine was more like a 4-layer dip! I did the taco seasoning-refried beans layer. the cream cheese-sour cream layer, a thin salsa layer and then the cheese layer with a few sliced olives on top. It tasted superb! Pair it with Tostitos Hint of Lime chips and mmmwah! One of the top favorites especially among our vegetarian friends!

The bacon-wrapped smokies needed a bit more effort - wrapping each cocktail sausage with a slice of bacon. I cut each strip of bacon into three so that I could wrap three sausages with one bacon strip. The first time I made them, I did the mistake of keeping them on flat sheets for baking. Of course, the bacon fat and sugar dripped down onto the oven base (which I actually didn't notice until later), and when I tried to bake my cheesy spinach artichoke dip, it starting smoking and the fire alarm went off! Our fire alarm says "FIRE FIRE!" when its beeping and after the nerve-wracking episode of calming my lil one and her friend down, I decided I would use slow cooker for my next try, whenever it is!

It wasnt long after, when I made it again for our Christmas party! I used a slow cooker and cooked it over 4 hours or so, but the liquid that came out was too much, and so my smokies were not as coated as when I made them in the ove. So word of advice, use a pan with sides and bake the smokies to perfection, definitely use foil to line the pan! Eventhough it was a bit messy, we all enjoyed it so much, it was the star appetizer of the party!

Because of my oven mishap with the smokies, I couldnt bake the cheesy spinach artichoke dip. I microwaved it for 10 minutes or so, but was never the same as if I had baked it. And it cooled down pretty quickly, so it didn't have the pulled cheese look, when dipped into! But other than that it was also pretty tasty!

So try these out and I am sure you wont be disappointed! Please do leave your comments and/or suggestions about the blog or the post or just say hi when you drop by!