Daring Bakers Challenge: Panna cotta with Elderberry Gelée & 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.

I love panna cotta. Every time we eat at Vapiano, I have to have one of theirs for dessert. I made some variations myself, even as cake (a recipe from Aran of Cannelle et Vanille, published at Design Sponge). So I was glad to have the opportunity to make one again, eager to add a tonka bean (which I hat only used once before) as flavouring agent. But what to choose as topping? A time ago I had bought elderberry juice which was originally thought to top an apple mousse (as gelee). I didn't make the mousse, but wasn't elderberry gelee a delicious topping for panna cotta to? I bet!

Giada's Vanilla Panna Cotta
serves 8
  • 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon (one packet) (7 g)  unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 3 cups (720 ml) whipping cream (30% fat)
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) honey
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • one large tonka bean (my modification)
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.Pour the milk into the saucepan/pot and place over medium heat on the stove. Add the tonka bean. Heat this mixture until it is hot, but not boiling, about five minutes. (I whisk it a few times at this stage). 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. Remove from heat, allow it to sit for a few minutes to cool slightly. Then pour into the glass or ramekin. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. 

Elderberry Gelée 
  • 250 ml elderberry juice
  • 30 g granulated sugar
  • half a package unflavored powdered gelatin 
  • one tablespoon water (for gelatin)
Sprinkle gelatin over water, wait until the water has completely been absorbed. Place juice and sugar in a small saucepan and simmer until sugar has dissolved. Now mix the gelatin into the mixture and stir until gelatin has dissolved. 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).

Nestle Florentine Cookies
Recipe from the cookbook “Nestle Classic Recipes”, and their website

  • 150 g unsalted butter 
  • 160 g quick oats
  • 230 g granulated sugar
  • 95 g plain (all purpose) flour
  • 60 ml dark corn syrup
  • 60 ml whole milk
  • 5 ml vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
 Preheat oven to moderately hot 375°F (190°C) (gas mark 5). Prepare your baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper. Melt butter in a medium saucepan, then remove from the heat. 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. Bake in preheated oven for 6-8 minutes, until cookies are golden brown. Cool completely on the baking sheets. 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). 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). Spread a tablespoon of chocolate on the bottom/flat side of your cookie, sandwiching another (flat end) cookie atop the chocolate.

Note: The cookies were easy to make but a little bit too sweet for me, so I recomment that you reduce the sugar to half the amount given. The were good with a spread of Nutella too.


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