Although it is an activity I enjoy it is sometimes difficult to find the time to bake for the Daring Bakers as the recipes are time-consuming and the weeks go by at light speed. Not forgetting that the post-baking process (taking pictures and writing my posts) cannot be done hastily and demands efforts, at least not in my case. This hobby is quite exhausting and the work we have to provide is generally arduous. One has to be creative, concentrated and well-organize, plan things in advance and have a clear mind in order to succeed. You really have to be a passionate baker to carry out the tasks as it requires skills and lots of determination.
The February 2011 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Mallory from "A Sofa in the Kitchen" who chose to challenge everyone to make "Panna Cotta" from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestlé "Florentine Cookies". As you can see, this month's trial was thankfully not intimidating at all and the recipes were no backbreakers. Although it was the first time that I prepared both specialities I was unusually laidback and enjoyed baking casually without breaking into a cold sweat. A first for me!
"Panna Cotta" and "Florentine Cookies" are two Italian delicacies which are very popular with foodies all around the world. The first dessert item hails from Piemont (northern part of the country), but can be found everywhere in Italy. "Panna Cotta" means "cooked cream". It's origin is unclear yet there are theories that suggest that in the mountainous regions unsweetened cream (to which was incorporated fish gelatine made with the bones) was eaten with plain, fresh fruits or hazelnuts (sugar was added to the preparation only lately). Similar versions can be found in Greece/Turkey (Kazan Dibi), Finland (Hedelmärahka) and France (Blanc-Manger). The second goodie is accredited to Austrian bakers, but it owe's it's origin from Florence in Tuscany. Those wonderful round lace biscuits are traditionally confectioned with nuts (generally sliced almonds), candied fruits (orange, cherries, lemon etc...), caramel and chocolate.
I must admit that I was a little skeptical and not really thrilled at the idea of using a Nestlé recipe because I am really not a big fan of this big multinational corporation considering the fact that their methods are far from being the most sustainable (deforestation/palm oil) or humane (baby milk), that what they produce is far too industrial for my taste (junk/plastic/additive-ladden food - yuck!) and not healthy, and that they literally "eat" other enterprises, destroy their soul (what made them unique) and the quality of the original products (for example Cailler Chocolates, Cereal Partner's Shredded Wheats & Rowntrees' After Eights are really less good than when they were not made by Nestlé - and the list goes on unfortunately). I thought that we would rather be making a more artisinal and traditional recipe created by a professinal pâtissier (I mean, aside from being the "guru" of processed food, Nestlé is surely not an authority in the "real" food domain - nothing Slow-Foodish about them).
Anyway, despite a few hiccups when it came to the wetness of the dough (I had to add more flour in order for them to not spread out too much - maybe it had to do with the fact that I didn't use corn syrup), the "Florentine Cookies" turned out pretty well and I have to confess that they were deliciously crunchy, addictively chewy as well as oaty. Giada De Laurentiis' "Honey Panna Cotta" were just flawless, creamy, silky, voluptuous, refreshing, delicately flavored, subtly sweet as well as luscious. The Gourmet Magazine "Coffee Jelly" layer at the bottom of each verrine added a delightfully bitter and seductive toasty note to the "Panna Cotta". A perfect contrast which makes this dreamlike pudding more adult and uplifts it's somewhat faint aromas by bringing character and punch to the whole.
"Panna Cotta" will definitely grace my table again as it is very versatile, refined, yet extremely easy to put together. Even my personal tester (boyfriend) who is not in very good terms with jelly thought that it was terrific. And as we are big oatmeal lovers the "Florentine Cookies" had a short life span. The ultimate dessert combination!
~ Florentine Cookies & Vanilla Coffee Panna Cotta ~
• 20-25 minutes to prepare the Panna Cotta - at least 6 hours to chill
• 20-25 minutes to prepare the cookies 6-8 minutes to bake
• Small mixing bowl
• Two medium sized heavy bottom pot or saucepan
• Wooden spoon and/or whisk
• Glasses or ramekins - something to pour and serve your Panna Cotta in
• Measuring cups
• Measuring spoons
• Silpat or wax paper or parchment paper
• Baking sheet
• Small bowl
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Giada's Panna Cotta
Recipe by Giada De Laurentiis.
1 Cup (240ml) Whole milk
1 Tbs (one packet/15ml/7g/¼oz) Unflavored powdered gelatin
3 Cups (720 ml) Whipping cream (35% butterfat)
1/3 Cup (80ml) Honey (strongly flavored - pine tree for example)
1 1/2 Pure vanilla extract
1 Tbs (15ml/15g/½oz) Granulated sugar
A 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).
2. Let stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.
3. Pour the milk into the saucepan/pot and p lace 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 th is stage).
4. Next, add the cream, honey, vanilla, sugar, and pinch of salt.
5. Making sure the mixture doesn't boil, continue to heat and stir occasionally until the sugar and honey have dissolved 5-7 minutes.
6. Remove from heat, allow it to sit for a few minutes to cool slightly. Then pour into the glass or ramekin.
7. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.
8. Add garnishes and serve.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Coffee Gelée For The Panna Cotta
Adapted from this recipe in Gourmet Magazine
2 Cups (480ml) Good quality brewed coffee
1/4 Cup (60 ml) Hot water + 2 Tbs (30ml) Cold water
1/2 Cup (120ml/115g/4oz) Granulated sugar
1 1/2 Tsps (7½ml/3½g/1/8oz) Unflavored powdered gelatin
2 Tsps (10ml) Pure vanilla extract
1. Place granulated sugar and 1/4 c. hot water in a small saucepan.
2. Bring to a boil, stir until the sugar has dissolved.
3. Sprinkle gelatin over 2 Tablespoons cold water and let it soften 2 minutes or so.
4. Stir the coffee, sugar, hot water, and vanilla into a small metal bowl, add gelatin mixture and stir well until gelatin has dissolved.
5. Pour into a glass (bottom) or over the panna cotta.
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.
Recipe from the cookbook “Nestlé Classic Recipes”, and their website.
Makes about 2 1/2 - 3 dozen sandwhiched Florentine cookies.
2/3 Cup (160ml/150g/5.3oz) Unsalted butter
2 Cups (480ml/160g/5 2/3oz) Quick oats
1 Cup (240ml/230g/8oz) Granulated sugar
2/3 cup (160ml/95g/3⅓oz) Plain (all purpose) flour
1/4 Cup (60ml) Dark corn syrup
1/4 Cup (60ml) Whole milk
1 Tsp (5 ml) Pure vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
1 1/2 Cups (360ml/250g/9oz) Dark or milk chocolate
1. Preheat oven to moderately hot 190° C (375° F).
2. Prepare your baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper.
3. Melt butter in a medium saucepan, then remove from the heat.
4. To the melted butter add oats, sugar, flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla, and salt. Mix well.
5. Drop a tablespoon full, three inches (75mm) apart, onto your prepared baking sheet.
6. Flatten slightly with the back of your tablespoon, or use a spatula.
7. Bake in preheated oven for 6-8 minutes, until cookies are golden brown.
8. Cool completely on the baking sheets.
9. While the cookies are cooling melt your chocolate until smooth either in a double boiler, or a bowl that fits atop a saucepan filled with a bit of water (make sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl).
10. 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).
11. Spread a tablespoon of chocolate on the bottom/flat side of your cookie, sandwiching another (flat end) cookie atop the chocolate.
You can also choose not to sandwich yours, in which case, drizzle the tops with chocolate (over your wax paper).
Etant donné que je suis en vacance et que je n'ai pas beaucoup de temps pour bloguer, je n'ai malheureusement pas pu faire une traduction française de ce billet et je m'en excuse auprès de tous mes amis lecteurs et blogueurs francophones!
C'est pourquoi je vous suggère de vous rendre sur le blog mentionné ci-dessous. Vous y trouverez cette recette en version française.
Chez Isa de "Les Gourmandises d'Isa" (Canada)