(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.)

Another fun challenge!  Panna Cotta has been on my list of things to try for a while, so I was excited about making it.  I decided on the vanilla option, with peach gelée on top.

The panna cotta comes together easily – it’s not as complicated and finicky as a custard or pudding.  You start by adding some unflavored gelatin to a cup of milk.  Let it bloom for a few minutes, then warm it up on the stove.  The goal is to get it hot but not boiling – you’re effectively scalding it to break down the proteins a bit and make it thicken up better.  Once it’s hot, add heavy cream, honey, and a bit of sugar.  I also added in some vanilla bean paste, but the vanilla bean particles didn’t stay suspended very well – I’d skip this next time.

After it all warms up again, let it cool, pour into dishes, and let it cool overnight.  Mine came out a bit puckered on top, but set up nicely:

IMG_5655 I wanted something to put on top, and I had some frozen peaches sitting around.  I went looking for a gelée recipe, and didn’t find anything I liked.  I started with an idea from myRecipes and used it as a springboard.  I tossed the (thawed) peaches in the blender to puree them while I bloomed another package of unflavored gelatin in a cup of club soda.  I added half a cup of the peach puree and a box of peach jello, then a cup of boiling water to dissolve it all.  I tried pouring the hot jello on top, but it broke up the panna cotta.  Spooning it carefully on top worked much better.

Next came the cookies.  This was a really quick and easy cookie recipe – add oats, flout, sugar, dark corn syrup (I didn’t have any, so I used half molasses and half light corn syrup), milk, and vanilla to a mixing bowl, melt some butter, and mix it all.  The result is a rather wet and sticky dough, which flattens out very thin when you bake it.

When I went to put the milk back in the fridge after making the cookies, I tipped over one of my panna cotta bowls, and it fell out of the fridge:

IMG_5656 Luckily, the mess took less time to clean up then the cookies took to bake.  The recipe said to let the cookies cool completely, then stick pairs of them together with melted dark chocolate.  I did that, but the cookies were far better warm, just as they were, right out of the oven.  The insides were gooey, the outside was crunchy, and they were rich and oat-y. 

IMG_5663

In the end, it all came together well.  The peach gelée worked well to add some fruitiness. The panna cotta was rich and creamy, and the cookies were crunchy.  I’m looking forward to making it again, with some different flavors – chocolate panna cotta, maybe, with cherry gelée on top?

( see the recipe )