Simply Cooking 101

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The Daring Baker’s Challenge: Strawberry Vanilla and Maraschino Cherry Panna Cotta with Florentines

Strawberry Vanilla Panna Cotta with Florentines

Maraschino Cherry Panna Cotta

Strawberry Panna Cotta

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.  This one was perfect for me and my favorite so far – two of my favorites creamy and cookies!  I decided to make maraschino cherry layers because I had some maraschino cherry jelly that I made recently and thought it would be a great combination.  While at the store, I found the first really nice strawberries of the year, so I couldn’t resist them, nor could I decide between the two so I made both versions.

Washing the Berries

First, the Florentines I followed the Nestle recipe, however, I found that a Tablespoon of dough for each cookie spread way too much and ended up with one giant cookie  (so sad you know we had to eat the mistake).  With each batch I reduced the amount, then finally got it to 1/2 teaspoon per cookie which made the perfect size.   Also, instead of making a sandwich cookie, I just drizzled them with chocolate as I liked the look better and wanted to lighten them up a little to serve with the Panna Cotta.

Ingredients for Florentines

Following the recipe (with the addition of 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon) I mixed up the dough, which looks like this:

Florentine Cookie Dough

As I mentioned, the recipe calls for a Tablespoon of dough for each cookie, which was way to much so I reduced that down to 1/2 teaspoon as they really spread, and actually that’s what you want because it makes them nice and lacy.

Florentine Cookies

Next:  Strawberry/Vanilla Panna Cotta.  Never having made this before, I found it much easier than I had expected not much more complicated than making jello.

For the strawberry portion:

1 lb strawberries

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 packet unflavoreed gelatin

1/4 cup water

1/1/2 cups whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

Few strawberries for garnish

First decide how you want to display – in a glass or in a mold.  If using a mold, spray it with vegetable spray.  I like using various glasses for the presentation as it eliminates the worry of getting them out of the mold and you still get to see how beautiful it is – plus it is a great excuse for using all the pretty glasses that at least at my house don’t get out very often.  I did try one in a mold, but unfortunately, I left it in the hot water too long so it pretty much lost the “mold” design and looked like a blob surrounded by melted pudding – not my best effort.  I’ll probably try again, but the ones in the glasses turned out much better.

1.  Puree the strawberries and sugar in a blender or food processor until very smooth and press through a sieve to remove the seeds. Remove 1 cup and reserve the rest.

Puree the strawberries

2.  Sprinkle the gelatin over the water in a small microwave safe bowl and let stand for 5 minutes to soften. Place in the microwave for 5 second intervals until it dissolves.

3.  In a medium size microwave safe bowl, bring the milk to a simmer, 1 1/2- to 2 minutes – don’t boil.

4.  Add the gelatin, strawberry puree and the cream and mix.

5.  Pour into the serving dishes and chill until firm. If you want to make layers as I did, fill the glasses partially and chill before adding another layer.

Using the reserved strawberry puree top the panna cotta and just before serving, add a Florentine cookie.

Strawberry Panna Cotta

Vanilla/Almond Panna Cotta

Remember if you are planning on layering the dessert, wait until the first layer firms up before making this layer.  I made a double batch of Giada’s Panna Cotta with Fresh Berries recipe , up to the last step but splitting it into two containers adding vanilla to one and almond extract to the other (for the maraschino cherry ones).  I noticed that this recipe was much smoother and creamier than the one with strawberries.

For the maraschino cherry layer I used the maraschino cherry jelly I made recently.  I warmed it slightly so it would pour into the glasses and put a layer on the bottom of the glass.  Poured the almond extract version over that, let it harden and then on some I put another thin layer of jelly on top.

Maraschino Cherry Panna Cotta with Florentine

For the strawberry version I used the already hardened layer of strawberry and added another layer of vanilla on top, then a layer of the reserved strawberry puree.

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12 comments on “The Daring Baker’s Challenge: Strawberry Vanilla and Maraschino Cherry Panna Cotta with Florentines

  1. carlysulli
    February 27, 2011

    Great job with the challenge this month! The layers of white and red are very striking! I had the same problem with the Florentines melting into one giant cookie and ended up using a teaspoon instead. Glad to hear I wasn’t the only one who had trouble! I’ll have to try your strawberry panna cotta when the berries are ripe up here in Washington 🙂

    • simplycooking101
      February 27, 2011

      Thanks, this one was really fun! I bet your berries will be great, these came from CA I’m sure they had a head start. My friend lives in Washington and said it’s been cold and snowy!

  2. Kim
    February 27, 2011

    I love how the light hits the gelee on the bottom of those layered glasses! Beautiful! Nice job on the challenge!

  3. Michelle
    February 27, 2011

    Professional quality presentation and photos! Positively gorgeous and I LOVE your flavor combinations!

  4. pragmaticattic
    February 27, 2011

    I really love that final shot with the sun shining through the layers–beautiful! Lovely layering and I like the idea of maraschino cherry with the panna cotta. I also found that a bare half teaspoon was the right amount or the cookies were too large.

  5. thejoyofcaking
    February 27, 2011

    Beautiful pictures, and flavors. A great job on a DB challenge!

  6. MommyMatter
    February 28, 2011

    Well they sure look pretty, and the cookies are the perfect decoration.

  7. Tres Delicious
    August 21, 2011

    So elegantly featured. I wish I could also feature some of this kind as well.

    • simplycooking101
      August 21, 2011

      Thanks, I’m working on presentation but I find that harder than the taste!

  8. culinaryneophyte
    August 27, 2011

    Beautiful photos!

  9. Pingback: Strawberry Vanilla Panna Cotta | Celiac Safe

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