Sunday, February 27, 2011

Daring Bakers-Panna Cotta and Florentine Cookies

I made it! Yes, I was able to finish the challenge in time...except that the florentine cookies didn't work out at all. It might have to do with the fact that I added ground pistachios without compensating by reducing the oats. The resulting cookies tasted great but were not lace cookies at all, but rather little wafers. The resulting dessert was "saved" by a cacao nib (or is it cocoa nib?) and pumpkin seed brittle I made to "dress" up the pannacotta. Delicious! Sadly, the computer crashed right after downloading the pictures from the camera so I lost them all, the above picture was taken with no light whatsoever, so excuse me as it is really bad. I also realized how difficult it is to photograph things that reflect light, the brittle was close to impossible to photograph without life reflecting from it.

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.

The possibilities for flavoring the pannacotta are really endless, but since I had wanted to try a cacao nib pannacotta recipe it was easy to decide on the flavor I wanted to use. I was intrigued by the idea on pairing the cacao flavor with coffee so I used the gelée recipe we were given to layer on top of the pannacotta. I was not sure that the florentine would be my choice of cookie for a pannacotta so I made a brittle too, and chose a recipe that I had wanted to try and thought that it would go well with the pannacotta smooth texture.

For the complete recipes and methods check out Mallory's post.

For the cocoa nib pannacotta I added 1/2 cup of chopped nibs to the hot cream and steeped them for an hour. I used skim milk, and added 1/2 cup of chevre and reduced the volume of milk. The tangy flavor of the cheese worked well with the nibs.

I have to say that although pannacotta is really easy and versatile and can be made into a light dessert I will pass it over a silky creme brulee any time (even if Michael Bauer reviewed my pannacotta as textbook perfect once, yeah!). I also think that pannacotta is better paired with a berry puree in the summer months. The gelée was really not an interesting item in my opinion, maybe it would work better if it had a really strong taste, or as part of a deconstructed dessert.

The brittle recipe comes from the book The Essence of Chocolate, written by John Scharffernberger and the late Robert Steinberg, the two men behind what was once one of my favorite chocolates, Scharffen Berger, now owned by Nestle' and no longer my favorite. This is one of those books I buy, read (it gives an amazing overview on chocolate and of their dream), and rarely use. Something to change...I will try other recipes soon.

Pumpkin Seed Nib Brittle
from the book The Essence of Chocolate

1/4 cup Cacao nibs
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

Grind the nibs to smaller pieces and sift them to remove the dust. Toast the pumpkin seeds on medium heat until they start to pop, 2 to 3 minutes. Cool and set aside.

Cook the sugar with the water and the cream of tartar until the syrup starts to color. When the caramel color is medium to deep amber, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the rest of the ingredients. Pour the mixture on a silpat-lined or oiled pan and let cool. Break it in pieces and store in an airtight container.

Many thanks to Mallory for choosing this month's challenge and to Lisa of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice, the creators of the Daring Bakers' challenge. To check other daring bakers' creations, please check the daring kitchen's site.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A wonderful take on the challenge!Both your brittle and panna cotta are fabulous.



Simona said...

Interesting choices for personalizing the challenge. I hope your computer is ok.

Lisa said...

Laura, I have no natural light, so I always have to take my photos using artificial light, and let me tell you, if mine turned out like yours, I'd be thrilled! :)

That said, gorgeous panna cotta, and I love the cocoa nib and pumpkin seed brittle! So sorry about your crash - I went through the same thing in January, lost most of my stuff *sigh*


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