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Daring Bakers: Panna cotta and florentines

(posting this late due to an encounter with a nasty inner ear infection that has rendered me useless until now to even hit “publish” on this post I had ready to go for Sunday. My posts might be few and far between for the next little while as I recover.)

I have to admit this month’s Daring Bakers confused me a little. Panna cotta? Sure. Florentines? Sure. But together? Not really a combination I would have thought of but was happy to try panna cotta again and florentines for the first time.

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 decided to follow the recipe given for panna cotta (a Giada de Laurentiis recipe from Food Network) because I wanted another “go to” recipe for plain panna cotta.  I have made this dish a couple of times with great results using a recipe from the Ontario Tender Fruit Producers but it’s always good to have another up your sleeve and I was curious to see how it turned out with honey at the sweetner.  As I am wont to do, I made only half the recipe and found it hard to halve the amount of gelatin (I used powder) so fear I might have been a little heavy handed on the gelatin.  These were a little gelatinous and I found them a little on the sweet side – I like my panna cotta fairly plain, tarting them up with a coulis or sauce or fresh fruit.  In any case, I would make them again, maybe using slightly less honey and slightly less gelatin

I served them with a florentine recipe I found on The Brave Tart.  The recipe given on the Daring Kitchen site was for a recipe using oats, which I have never heard of in a florentine cookie (and I admit to being disappointed because I had a set idea in mind for this cookie!).  I headed over to Epicurious’ online dictionary, to see what they had to say:

Though Austrian bakers are credited with inventing these cookies, their name implies an Italian heritage. They’re a mixture of butter, sugar, cream, honey, candied fruit (and sometimes nuts) that is cooked in a saucepan before being dropped into mounds on a cookie sheet and baked. The chewy, candylike florentines often have a chocolate coating on one side.

Ah yes, right. The Brave Tart’s recipe sounded more like the real deal and her photos were so enticing, I couldn’t help but try the recipe out.  My florentines did not get as thin as I would have liked but they certainly tasted fabulous. The only change I made was to use slivered almonds instead of pecans, as I had them on hand.

Next time, I think I would need to work quicker with the hot mixture as it needs to get in the oven soon after you put it on the parchment.  I dilly dallied around a bit too long, methinks.

I loved in the original recipe, The Brave Tart says “Please do not under any circumstance throw away the scrappy crumb type bits! You must save them, in a zippy bag, to sprinkle over ice cream or possibly breakfast cereal. You will thank me for this reminder someday.” I followed her advice and saved some crumbly bits for the tops of the panna cottas I served in little French yoghurt pots.

And I even had some little ends leftover that I drizzled with with chocolate to make little “batonnets” of florentine.

(Yes, as you can see, I had fun with the panna cotta shapes!)

This was a fun challenge and showed me I can make florentines at home. Easily. Danger Danger Will Robinson!

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53 Responses to Daring Bakers: Panna cotta and florentines

  1. Mr. Neil March 2, 2011 at 05:57 #

    And to top off a meal, try a wee glass of Vin Santo (florentines) or Limoncello (panna cotta), depending on your preference.

    The pc was not nearly as traditional as the other recipe – it tasted “American” to me.

  2. Lael Hazan @educatedpalate March 2, 2011 at 07:07 #

    I hope you feel better soon. Inner ear infections are nasty.
    I love your photos and all the fun you had with the shapes of the panna cotta. I need to remember to do that. Even if you are ill, your posts are fun!

  3. Belinda @zomppa March 2, 2011 at 08:00 #

    Ooo, sorry, you’ve been battling that infection. Hope it heals quickly – in the meantime, these cookies are definitely a pick-me-up!!

  4. Sarah, Maison Cupcake March 2, 2011 at 08:31 #

    Oh no, I had something like that once, you must make sure you take it easy and let yourself get over it, it will be counterproductive to push yourself back into action too early – trust me.

    I though this was an odd DB too but I enjoyed it. My florentines were a disaster though, the batter spread all over the place. Yours look way better.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 8, 2011 at 19:36 #

      Oh you should have SEEN my oven trays – why I cut them out and why I had some “batonnets” left LOL! And yes, rest is the best thing…

  5. Paula - bell'alimento March 2, 2011 at 09:03 #

    This looks delicious! So sorry you’re under the weather! Hugs and here’s to feeling MUCH better QUICKLY xoxo

  6. Barbara Bakes March 2, 2011 at 09:18 #

    This challenge could be dangerous for me too. Yours sounds delicious. Sorry you’re under the weather. Hope you’re feeling better soon. I loved the little leftover bits too.

  7. Vicki @ WITK March 2, 2011 at 09:24 #

    Your real florentines look so tasty! I wasn’t super impressed with the Nestle recipe either. Nice work on this challenge, I posted mine late too.

  8. cucinaunsogno March 2, 2011 at 13:26 #

    I’m italian and it tasted American also for me..This is a pic of original italian “Fiorentini”
    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/__uPEFc6P8u0/S3Jb2inOWaI/AAAAAAAAAGM/_bj9oyMO95g/s1600-h/fiorentini.jpg
    Please…call a spade a spade…

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 2, 2011 at 15:17 #

      Yes the panna cotta tasted not quite right – i believe that it what Neil is referring to. Yes, that picture of the florentines you linked to is what I had in mind for florentines – hence why I did not use the Nestlé recipe with oatmeal.

      • Mr. Neil March 3, 2011 at 07:17 #

        Yes, it was the pc I was referring to. The flortentines were divine, if not to your exact desires.

  9. Stella March 2, 2011 at 13:37 #

    Oh, they look wonderful! The panna cotta/florentine combo seems pretty natural to me smooth/sweet meets crunchy/nutty, and they’re both Italian. I’m honored you tried my version of the Florentines! I also got to thinking, perhaps they didn’t spread as thin because of the almonds? They can really only spread as thin as the largest nut; pecans grind up quite finely compared to almonds, so that might be it. Nevertheless, yours look beautiful and I’m so glad you saved the scrappy bits!!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 8, 2011 at 19:35 #

      Thanks Stella for the inspiration :-) And yes, next time I will chop the almonds finer but they did taste great so noone complained!

  10. Susan March 2, 2011 at 14:30 #

    Ciao, Mardi,

    I hope you’re feeling better soon! I did wonder about the combination, too. But, March will be my first month with the Daring Bakers, so look forward to seeing all the lovely creations!

    It looks like you had fun with this one!

  11. Celia March 2, 2011 at 15:46 #

    So glad you’re feeling well enough to share this! That chocolate drizzle really takes some already-gorgeous florentines to the next level. Get better soon!

  12. Elyse March 2, 2011 at 17:31 #

    This looks so good – I love panna cotta! I also love the different shapes that you made :)

  13. Liz March 2, 2011 at 18:56 #

    Hope you’re feeling better, Mardi! Your Florentines look lovely…love your chocolate garnish :)

  14. KA B L O O E Y March 2, 2011 at 21:47 #

    I hope you’re feeling better very soon. and I agree with all comments about those chocolate drizzled florentines looking so, so good. Wish I had some little crumbly bits right now to sprinkle on the dessert you’ve now driven me to crave.

  15. Ashlae March 2, 2011 at 22:00 #

    I wish I had gone the simple panna cotta route and fancied up my florentines – yours are so beautiful! I love the chocolate drizzle and chocolate-coated sticks.

  16. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction March 2, 2011 at 22:21 #

    These florentines look amazing! I will definitely have to give the recipe a try sometime… I especially love the round ones drizzled with chocolate. And, good call to add the bits to the jar of panna cotta. Yum :)

  17. Conor @ Hold the Beef March 2, 2011 at 23:42 #

    Oh poop, an ear infection is no fun at all :(

    You know, just in case you were thinking for a moment that it was heaps of fun.

    I like your florentines but I am choosing to instantly forget reading about them, as they can very very easily turn into a huge vice for me. I have been known to make myself ill on too many florentines, on more than one occasion. One of the times was when I was taking a few home with me from a party, and foolishly had them on the passenger seat next to me. None of them made it home.

  18. Magic of Spice March 3, 2011 at 00:26 #

    Hope you are feeling better…your florentines are delightful!

  19. Marisa March 3, 2011 at 03:08 #

    Sorry to hear about your inner ear infection – hope you feel better seen. Those florentines look lovely – I love the baton versions!

  20. RavieNomNoms March 3, 2011 at 10:29 #

    I hope you feel better very soon! These look seriously amazing, what great pictures!

  21. Barbara | VinoLuciStyle March 3, 2011 at 16:42 #

    I usually make Florentines for the holidays but am suddenly craving them now. The drizzle is perfect…and so much easier than painting chocolate on the bottom; I’m going to remember that!

    Hope you feel better soon…sounds like a bunch of people have been sick this week…a Twitter bug as opposed to a Twitter bird you think? :)

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 8, 2011 at 19:31 #

      T’is the season for everyone to be ill. Perhaps if we all ate some florentines we would feel better ;-)

  22. Winnie March 3, 2011 at 18:37 #

    These both look delicious Mardi. I am taking it to be a good sign that you were able to get to the computer to publish this post…get well soon :)

  23. sara @CaffeIna March 3, 2011 at 19:39 #

    Sorry to hear you are not well! Ear infections are nasty nasty! I hope you get better soon and post something super cool!

  24. marla March 4, 2011 at 08:43 #

    This was such a fun Daring Bakers Challenge to gaze upon. Must try making some florentine cookies over here. One of my all time favorite cookies.

  25. Paula March 4, 2011 at 16:44 #

    The waiting for this post was worth it and I hope your inner ear infection is clearing up Mardi. Your florentines look as if they could be the start of a serious addiction. Biting into a few of these with that drizzled chocolate would prove to be a temptation I wouldn’t be able to resist.

  26. Dee D. March 4, 2011 at 18:15 #

    wow! Your florentines and panna cotta look amazing :) Especially your florentines! Yumm!

  27. Nancy@acommunaltable March 4, 2011 at 18:44 #

    I am with Vino Luci – love the idea of drizzling the chocolate instead of coating the bottom of the florentines!! Your panna cottas came out beautifully !!!!

  28. Rochelle (Acquired Taste) March 6, 2011 at 09:31 #

    I’ve been wondering where you’ve been! I’m sorry to hear about that nasty ear infection and hope you get to 100% soon!

    I love your florentines, they look great (I especially enjoyed the “batonnets”) .

  29. egb March 6, 2011 at 20:34 #

    Looks great! Can’t wait to try them out!!

  30. Kristen March 7, 2011 at 18:42 #

    Oh wow – these look so good. Gorgeous pictures. So impressed with you Daring Bakers each month!

  31. SMITH BITES March 8, 2011 at 06:29 #

    ouchie Mardi – i do hope you’re on the road to recovery; in the meantime, these cookies look wonderful, the photos are beautiful and that panna cotta divine!

  32. Fuji Mama March 10, 2011 at 11:37 #

    Absolutely stunning Mardi! I love Florentines, and I’m with you—lightly sweet panna cotta tarted up with a nice berry coulis please!!

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