Sunday, February 27, 2011

Cinnamon-Chocolate Panna Cotta and Florentine Cookies: Daring Bakers' Challenge

February is almost over. And with the close of each month, I bring to you yet another Daring Bakers’ Challenge post. This one isn’t too exciting, but does include two items. You see, 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.

Two recipes. No pressure. I started with the panna cotta.

Two layers? What? Well, you see, Mallory offered up TWO recipes. One plain and one chocolate, I, of course, had to try the chocolate recipe for the bottom layer.

Come on. Did you forget which blog you were reading? Here’s how the chocolate layer went down.

Chocolate Panna Cotta Ingredients

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 tablespoon unflavored powdered gelatin

1 cup whipping cream

1/4 cup sugar

2 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (Scharffen Berger 70% Cacao Bittersweet)

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Pour milk into a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over the top, set aside for five minutes. Heat cream, sugar, and vanilla over medium heat, bring to a low boil. Add chocolate and whisk until melted, then whisk in the milk-gelatin mixture until uniform. Transfer to a 9-inch springform pan lined with parchment paper and wrapped in aluminum foil.

Allow this layer to chill at least eight hours before tackling the next layer, which I chose to turn into a cinnamon panna cotta by using Mallory’s plain panna cotta recipe.

Cinnamon Panna Cotta Ingredients
1/2 cup whole milk

1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin

1 1/2 cups whipping cream

2 1/2 tablespoons honey

1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar

pinch of salt

1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon

Pour the milk into a pot and sprinkle gelatin evenly and thinly over the milk; let stand for 5 minutes. Heat over medium heat until hot, but not boiling. Add cream, honey, sugar, and salt. Making sure the mixture doesn't boil, continue to heat and stir occasionally until the sugar and honey have dissolved. Remove from heat, stir in cinnamon. Chill slightly in refrigerator, whisking occasionally to ensure that the mixture does not solidify, then pour on top of chilled chocolate layer. Refrigerate six to eight hours.

So that’s nice and pretty, and the folks at the party I took it to enjoyed the flavor combination. But this is the Daring Bakers’ challenge, right? Where’s the baking?

Woah now. This was a two-part challenge, remember? Onto the Florentine cookies, to which I added a cinnamon kick because…because I could.

Cinnamon Florentine Cookie Ingredients

1/3 cup unsalted butter

1 cups quick oats

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup flour

1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1 ½ teaspoons molasses

4 tablespoons cream, divided

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

5 ounces dark chocolate

2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided

Mix the oats, sugar, flour, one teaspoon of cinnamon, and salt in a bowl, set aside. Mix corn syrup, molasses, two tablespoons of cream, and vanilla in another bowl, set aside. Melt butter in a medium saucepan, once melted, remove from heat and add liquid and dry mixtures. Mix well.

Drop tablespoon-size bits of dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Since I baked these shortly before Valentine’s Day, I thought I would pipe these into hearts.

Regardless of the shape you choose, bake at 375°F for 6-8 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on cookie sheet.

So much for those cute hearts.

Luckily, I still had the ganache filling to tackle, the thoughts of which immediately lifted my spirits.

To make the ganache, heat the chocolate and remaining cream over low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat, add remaining cinnamon. Allow to chill to room temperature, then spread ganache on half of the cookies.

Then sandwich them.

Cinnamon, chocolate, and cookies. Very nice. Even if not heart shaped.

Thanks for the two-part challenge, Mallory! Not too time consuming, and both new things for me.

Have you made panna cotta before?


  1. Love your flavors! Yeah, those florentines have a mind of their own, don't they? I'm going to try chocolate next :)

  2. Cinnamon and chocoalte are wonderful together! =D

  3. Cinnamon, oats, molasses, chocolate... I need those florentines in my life, STAT.

  4. That's funny your hearts didn't turn out! But it does look delicious, I like your flavor combination and your layered panna cotta, yum.

  5. I love the idea of including cinnamon. Great job on the challenge!

  6. Mmm, I love chocolate and cinnamon together! I had thought about doing layers, but then didn't due to technical difficulties. And yeah, that is some melty cookie dough. Everything looks delish!

  7. I bet you told those heart-shaped cookies who's boss. BY EATING THEM.

  8. Chocolate and cinnamon is a winner with me and the panna cotta with two layers brilliant and the cookies are wondrous. Lovely work on this challenge.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

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