Sunday, February 27, 2011

Vanilla Mint Panna Cotta and 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. The panna cotta was luscious and the crispy, sweet florentine cookies irresistible. It was a fun challenge without obscure ingredients or tedious steps. Thank you for hosting, Mallory.

In high school my favorite lip products were Victoria's Secret's Enchanted Pear Roll-On Gloss and Bath & Body Works' Vanilla Mint Lip Balm. They were tasty enough that their application was counterproductive to providing lip moisture as I licked them right off. I also sometimes offered flavor choices to boys I dated prior to kissing. What a catch! Ha. Remembering all this inspired me to flavor my panna cotta Vanilla Mint. The end result tasted more natural than that lip gloss but was still sweet, refreshing and, thanks to the recipe's high fat content, left my lips feeling (temporarily) moist.

The Florentine Cookies' impressive appearance belies the work involved. They can be baking in under 30 minutes and can burn quickly, so keep an eye on them once they are in the oven. The batter looks very wet but the liquid becomes a toffee-like gold. Trust me. Don't add dry ingredients or you will end up with a sad, heavy cookie. I didn't like them as much with chocolate since it overwhelmed the buttery, toffee flavor but feel free to try it. These Oatmeal Lace Cookies from when the Daring Cooks tackled Nut Butters are very similar and also delicious. For either cookie plan to eat them fairly quickly as they soften over time.

You can download Mallory's tips and all the related recipes here. My adjusted version of the panna cotta is below. The texture was good but I had a bit of trouble unmolding it. Maybe next time it will go more smoothly! But I will definitely use greek yogurt or similar in the future to reduce the fat. All that cream overwhelmed me.

Giada's Vanilla Panna Cotta

1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon (one packet)unflavored powdered gelatin
3 cups whipping cream (30+% butterfat)
1/4 cup agave nectar (this was 1/3 cup honey)
1 tablespoon granulated vanilla sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
3 stalks of mint
2 drops peppermint extract
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. Add three stalks of mint. (I whisk it a few times at this stage).
3. Next, add the cream, honey, sugar, vanilla bean paste, peppermint extract 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, remove mint stalks, 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.

Find more artists like Anya Marina at Myspace Music


  1. Lovely flavour combo - looks delicious. I also particularly enjoyed the bit about the flavour choice for your boyfriends!

  2. I LOVE the story about offering your date the lipbalm before you kissed!

    and combination of mint and vanilla for the panna cotta sounds lovely. Did you serve it to anyone right before you kissed them? ;)

  3. I tried making florentines last winter from a recipe I got from the boston globe. I love it with chocolate though. Mine didnt turn out nearly as pretty as yours.

  4. WOW mint vanilla panna cotta that sounds so delicious (I love your tale about the lip gloss so cute) and the cookies are superb so lacy and toffee-like. Well done on this challenge.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  5. Poires au Chocolat - Thank you!

    Eat the Love - Thanks! If only that had happened...maybe next time.

    Rachel - I wonder what happened with yours! I bet they still tasted delicious.

    Audax - Thank you! I loved the cookies too.

    It sounds like I should bring the flavored lip gloss collection back into my life. ;)

  6. Lovely! I will be back with TDC next month. Can hardly wait.

  7. Sarah - I bet you are! I am glad to see you are back with a functional, fantastic kitchen.

  8. Vanilla mint sounds delicious!

  9. Vanilla mints sounds like a wonderful flavour, and now I am thinking of more combinations to use with that, but I must stop making the stuff! To make the tilted layers I just put the ramekins in an empty egg carton to firm up. I only spilled one.

  10. Mary - Step away from the cream! Ha. Thank you for the tip on tilted layers.

  11. Offering lip flavor choices prior to kissing? That sounds so much fun.... I am game for it :-)

    Great presentation and best selection of vanilla mint flavor..

  12. Kris - It was exciting at the time! Now I just use plain 'ol lip products, which was way less exciting.

    Thank you about the presentation and flavor!