Blackberry Vanilla Panna Cotta and Florentine Cookies - A Daring Baker's Challenge

Vanilla Panna Cotta with Blackberry Gelee

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.
Panna cotta has always looked difficult to make and I was never certain if the outcome would be worth the effort seeing as I've never had panna cotta before and always thought of it as a creamy jello (yuck!). So, I never even considered making it until this month when it was chosen to go with Florentine cookies for our Daring Baker's challenge. 
Once I started looking at the ingredients and how you change it up and make it more interesting, I too became more interested and less apprehensive about the jiggly creamy dessert. The florentine cookies, however, sounded delicious from the start!
Vanilla Panna Cotta with Blackberry Gelee


Giada's Vanilla Panna Cotta

1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
1 tablespoon (one packet) (15 ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
3 cups (720 ml) whipping cream (30+% butterfat)
1/3 cup (80 ml) honey
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) granulated sugar
pinch of salt
  1. Pour the milk into a bowl or pot and sprinkle gelatin evenly and thinly over the milk (make sure the bowl/pot is cold by placing the bowl/pot in the refrigerator for a few minutes before you start making the Panna Cotta). Let stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.
  2. Pour the milk into the saucepan/pot and place over medium heat on the stove. Heat this mixture until it is hot, but not boiling, about five minutes. (I whisk it a few times at this stage).
  3. Next, add the cream, honey, sugar, and pinch of salt. Making sure the mixture doesn't boil, continue to heat and stir occasionally until the sugar and honey have dissolved 5-7 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, allow it to sit for a few minutes to cool slightly. Then pour into the glass or ramekin.
  5. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. Add garnishes and serve.

Fruit Gelée 

Recipe by Mallory

1 cup (240 ml) (230 gm) (8 oz) fruit (strawberries, raspberries, mango, blackberry, etc.)
*Note: Certain fruits interact with gelatin and stop it gelling like pineapple and kiwi etc.
3 tablespoons (45 ml) water
1/4 cup (60 ml) (60 gm) (2 oz) granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons (7½ ml) (3½ gm) (1/8 oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
  1. Sprinkle gelatin over water.
  2. Place fruit and sugar in a small saucepan and simmer until sugar has dissolved. Now mix the gelatin into the strawberry mixture and stir until gelatin has dissolved.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool (close to room temp, again, if you're planning on layering on pouring on top of your Panna Cotta, a hot mixture will also heat up your chilled Panna Cotta).

Vanilla Panna Cotta with Blackberry Gelee


Being one who cannot just let a recipe be and must add my own touch, I decided to add some poppy seeds to the vanilla panna cotta after it was done cooking but before refrigerating.

For my gelée, I decided to use some blackberries. I cooked the blackberries down and poured the liquid part on top of the panna cotta. I used the cooked berries for a couple of panna cotta I had that were in ramekins and were un-molded later on (sorry, I didn't get any photos of those!)

Both the hubby and I were pleasantly surprised by the creamy flavor and the smooth texture. I was especially surprised by how much better the whole thing was than what I thought it was going to be and how unlike jello it really was.

And, yes, totally worth the effort!



Nestle Florentine Cookies

Recipe from the cookbook “Nestle Classic Recipes”, and their website.
2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm) (5.3 oz) unsalted butter
2 cups (480 ml) (160 gm) (5 2/3 oz) quick oats
1 cup (240 ml) (230 gm) (8 oz) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (160 ml) (95 gm) (3⅓ oz) plain (all purpose) flour
1/4 cup (60 ml) dark corn syrup
1/4 cup (60 ml) whole milk
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1½ cups (360 ml) (250 gm) (9 oz) dark or milk chocolate
Preheat oven to moderately hot 375°F (190°C) (gas mark 5). Prepare your baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper.
  1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan, then remove from the heat.
  2. To the melted butter add oats, sugar, flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla, and salt. Mix well. Drop a tablespoon full, three inches (75 mm) apart, onto your prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly with the back of your tablespoon, or use a spatula.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 6-8 minutes, until cookies are golden brown. Cool completely on the baking sheets.
  4. While the cookies are cooling melt your chocolate until smooth either in the microwave (1 1/2 minutes), or stovetop (in a double boiler, or a bowl that fits atop a saucepan filled with a bit of water, being sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl).
  5. Peel the cookies from the silpat or parchment and place face down on a wire rack set over a sheet of wax/parchment paper (to keep counters clean).
  6. Spread a tablespoon of chocolate on the bottom/flat side of your cookie, sandwiching another (flat end) cookie atop the chocolate.
This recipe will make about 2 1/2 - 3 dozen sandwiched Florentine cookies. You can also choose not to sandwich yours, in which case, drizzle the tops with chocolate (over your wax paper).
 The recipes above are straight from The Daring Kitchen post for this month's challenge. If you would like to check out what the others have done and the recipes please go to The Daring Kitchen website!

Vanilla Panna Cotta with Blackberry Gelee
I had to change one ingredient in these cookies. I switched the corn syrup for dark molasses.  

These cookies tasted creamy. That's right, I said they were a creamy tasting cookie. I was shocked that a cookie had the taste of cream to it. With that and the sugar, they came out very rich and needed no chocolate whatsoever. I'll probably not use whole milk or as much sugar next time and try for a healthier version, even though these did taste great as they were, just a bit on the rich side of things.

All in all I'd say this challenge was delicious as per usual!


Audax said...

WOW your photography is stunning and so professional. Yes about the Florentines I think it is the oats that make it taste so creamy. Superb effort and excellent results on this challenge.

Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

Jenny said...

Beautifully done! Could you taste the poppy seeds?

sanjeeta kk said... I wish I could get those fresh Blackberries! Adding poppy seeds to the Panna cotta sounds interesting. Lovely click, looks scrumptious.

Rochelle said...

Audax - Thank you! I never thought that it could be the oats that made it taste creamy, but you're probably right :)

Jenny- Thanks! You couldn't really taste the poppy seeds but they gave a nice little crunch and texture to the panna cotta :).

Sanjeeta - Thanks! I was pretty happy to find the blackberries and they gave a lovely flavor that melded well with the panna cotta.

Asha @ FSK said...

Glad you gave the pannacotta a try despite your inhibitions :) It's one of my favorite desserts.. no fuss and so creamy :)

Love the combination of the blackberries with the vanilla pannacotta

shelley c. said...

Oh my gosh, looking at your pictures, I am so craving blackberries right now!! Your panna cotta looks absolutely beautiful, the florentines look perfect, and your photographs are amazing. Really great job.

Jeanne said...

I'm not a fan of jello, either, so I was also apprehensive about this challenge. But my panna cotta never set so I didn't have to worry about tasting it. ;) Yours looks fabulous and I love the flavors that you chose!

The Betz Family said...

Your Panna Cotta looks great and I love the blackberry gelee layer on the top. Nice job on the challenge!

Poires au Chocolat said...

Lovely! Blackberry was a wonderful idea. Very curious about the poppy seeds - must have added a very interesting texture.

Anonymous said...

the poppy seeds sound like a fantastic addition. Great job

Todd M said...

Both your panna cotta and the florentines look fabulous. The blackberries look great on it.

Eat4Fun said...

Delicious, mouthwatering looking panna cotta. Great photos really bring out the wow factor!

MaryMary said...

The blackberries and the photos are so vibrant. Love the creativity of poppy seeds!

Pegasuslegend said...

I wish I could learn how to present and photo graph like you this is mesmerizing! lovely photo's and I love the berries!

Anonymous said...

That's some seriously beautiful styling and photography... not to mention a great sounding flavor combo on your panna cotta. Well done!

penny aka jeroxie said...

Super pretty dessert. you did such a great job.

Eat the Love said...

I love the martini glass and the blackberries! What a wonderful flavor combination!

I actually used molasses too in my cookies and I was pleased with the results, though next time I think I might cut the butter. It seemed a bit greasy to me.

Aparna said...

YOur panna cotta looks lovely with contrasts of white red and the fruit.

Tia said...

soo pretty! vibrant colors and beautiful plating. wow all your pics look so fantastic!!! clean and elegant. great job! I did a cheese-cake type panna cotta :)

Linda V @ Bubble and Sweet said...

Totally gorgeous photo's.

I thought the cookies were quite rich as well and did not add the chocolate and I also think half the sugar would be more than enough.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful! I like your addition of poppy seeds and the blackberry gelee!

E.K.R said...

How interesting to add poppy seeds! Your challenge turned out beautifully and sounds delicious. :) Great job on the challenge.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Very well done! That panna cotta looks so delicious. I love berries.



chef_d said...

Love the gorgeous colors of your blackberry vanilla panna cotta! Great job on this challenge!

Aparna said...

The ruby red contrast of the gelee is so eye-catching. Looks beautiful.

Catalina said...

You have so pretty photos! I love the intensive red color of the blackberry jelly :) The addition of poppy seeds sounds very interesting!

Joy said...

Wow Rochelle what a beautiful panna cotta, I always enjoy panna cottas because they taste so rich and silky. Your version is absolutely striking :)

Stephanie said...

I love the color of the blackberry gelee - stunning! I'm especially curious about the cookies. I've never had Florentines and a creamy cookie sounds pretty amazing. I'll have to try making them sometime.

Letizia Golosa said...

LOVE panna cotta!! This way of serving it beautiful!

TheMasterpaws said...

How many does it make? :)