Sunday, February 27, 2011

Coffee panna cotta with florentines


Northern California has been in a tizzy these days with the possibility of a snow dusting in San Francisco and the Bay Area. Yes, you read that properly. Snow Dusting = Winter Storm out here.

Excuse me for a moment while I go laugh hysterically....

The irony is further enhanced by the Snowpocalypse which hit all my family and friends back in Chicago a few weeks ago. This, my friends, is a winter storm:

 Stole this picture from my cousin's facebook page: view from his front street.
Notice the literal wave of snow that's buried cars.

So even though we can all agree California's winters are weaksauce compared to Chicago, it still gets colder here in the winter time compared to the summer. Which is great, because I do enjoy "diet" seasons the Bay Area has to offer, but it makes me sad because I never crave my favorite dessert in the winter: ice cream.

But it turns out, there's a less cold version of ice cream out there. It's called panna cotta. And it rocks my world.

Creamy like ice cream. But won't chill you to the bone. Genius!!!

I never really had much of a desire to make panna cotta, but it was part of my Daring Bakers Challenge this month (along with florentine cookies) so I was forced to try 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.

And I can't get over how easy and freaking delicious it was. I think it took a whopping 10 minutes to prepare. And it was sooooo creamy and delicious. Seriously reminded me of ice cream, but instead of using the cold to "set" the cream it uses gelatin.

I admit, I was hesitant, because as much as I love jello I didn't think gelatin + cream would be good. I imagined some kind of hard, weird textured dessert. But it was soft and creamy and melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness.

Coffee panna cotta in my adorable little tea cups

Just enough gelatin for it to set, but not too much to keep it soft. 

You can also unmold panna cotta, which I tried (semi) successfully. (My edges got all wonky.)

Panna cotta set in a ramikin (L) and in a glass (R)

We were also tasked to make florentine cookies, which was supposed to be a juxtaposition of creamy and crunchy. The cookies were delicious, but didn't turn out too crunchy. So I don't think I'll make them together in the future, but individually each was unbelievably delicious.

Thanks to my roommate, who made these delicious cookies for me!

And if you want to check out how my coffee panna cotta pales in comparison to some of the other unbelievably creative panna cotta recipes out there, just check out the Daring Bakers. Works of delicious art using layers of gelee or curd and alllll kinds of crazy glasses and insane flavor combinations. Truly humbled by their creativity.

So I'll definitely be playing around with panna cotta a lotta more in the future.

Buen Provecho,

Coffee panna cotta, from Giada


1/2 cup (whole) milk (I used 2%)
1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 heaping teaspoons instant espresso or coffee powder
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch salt
dark and/or white chocolate, for garnishing


1. Place the milk in a heavy, small saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin over and let stand for 5-30 minutes to soften the gelatin.

2. Stir over medium heat just until the gelatin dissolves, but making sure the milk does not boil, about 2 minutes.

3. Add the cream, espresso powder, sugar, and salt. Stir over low heat, until the sugar dissolves, about 2-3 more minutes.

4. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Pour the cream mixture into glasses or ramikins, dividing equally. Cover and refrigerate, stirring every 20 minutes during the first hour. Note: this prevents the coffee from separating a bit. It's not really essential, in fact, I ended up getting a cool layer of darker panna cotta on the bottom because I was lazy and skipped this step. But if you want the panna cotta to have a perfectly uniform color, then maybe go ahead and do this.

5. Chill until set, at least 6 hours and up to 2 days.

When ready to serve, use a vegetable peeler on the chocolate blocks to create the chocolate shavings. Sprinkle the shavings over each panna cotta and serve.

Almond Florentines, from The Gourmet Cookie Cookbook


1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 cups finely chopped almonds
3/4 cup finely chopped candied orange peel (Note: I used heaping 1/4 cup and it was enough)
1/3 cup flour


1. In a saucepan, mix together heavy cream, sugar, and butter and bring the mixture to a boil. Remove it from the heat and stir in the almonds, orange peel, and flour.

2. Drop the batter from a tablespoon into mounds about 3 inches apart on oiled and lightly floured cookie sheets and flatten each cookie with a wet spatula. Bake the cookies in a moderate oven (350°F) for about 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven and let them stand for about 5 minutes. Remove the cookies to a wire rack, let them cool completely, and spread them with chocolate glaze (optional). Chill.

Jackie's notes:
* The cookies were really good, but the edges cooked much faster than the center parts so they were still a bit soft. I was thinking maybe cooking them for longer (10-15 min) in a 300˚F oven might solve the problem. Not sure if that would work, but might be worth a shot if you're having the same problems. But then...

*... I read in my Daring Bakers forum that placing the cookies on a pre-heated baking sheet yields a more uniformly cooked cookie. So something else that's worth a shot!


Aparna said...

Coffee is a great way to go with panna cotta. I like how thin your Florentines have turned out.

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