Sunday, February 27, 2011

My First Daring Bakers Challenge: White Chocolate Panna Cotta with Florentine Cookies

After debating for a long while if I was ready to participate in a baking group (since FFwD didn't really work out...), I decided to join the Daring Bakers! I was looking through the past challenges and they're all things on my baking wish list, so why not?

This February was my first Daring Bakers challenge and panna cotta was something I was not very familiar with. As I started making it, I realized it was a lot like making ice cream, except with some gelatine!

I decided to make a raspberry gelée and what better than a white chocolate panna cotta to go with it? There were a few things that weren't mentioned in the challenge that I would have found helpful:

If you want a layer of gelée in the panna cotta: first make half the panna cotta recipe, refrigerate it well, make the gelée and let it cool, pour some on top of the cooled panna cotta (equally dividing it between all the servings), refrigerate it, then make the second half of the panna cotta and pour it on top of the gelée.

Since I didn't realize this, I made all the panna cotta and gelée at the same time, refrigerated the panna cotta and then had to reheated the gelée in order to pour it at the very top! It still tasted great, but I would have rathered have the raspberry gelée inside. I would definitely try this again, maybe with dark chocolate next time? As for the cookies, I love this recipe because it was the first time I made oatmeal cookies and they actually spread! A bit too greasy in my opinion and I would make them a bit smaller next time. So here's the recipe for my February Daring Bakers challenge:

White Chocolate Panna Cotta with Florentine Cookies

White Chocolate Panna Cotta
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Makes about 6 servings

1 cup whole milk
1 tbsp (15 mL) (7 g) (1/4 oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup (145 g) (5 oz) white chocolate
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Pour the milk into a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over the top and set aside for 2-5 minutes.
2. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir in cream, sugar and vanilla. Bring to a low boil.
3. Add chocolate and whisk until melted. Whisk the milk/gelatin mixture into the chocolate cream mixture. Whisk until gelatin has dissolved.
4. Transfer to ramekins, or nice glasses for serving.
5. Cover and chill at least 8 hours, or overnight.

Fruit Gelée
Recipe by Mallory

1 cup (230 g) (8 oz) fruit (strawberries, raspberries, mango, blackberries, etc.)
*Note: Certain fruits interact with gelatin and stop it gelling like pineapple and kiwi.
3 tbsp water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 tsp (7.5 mL) (3.5 g) (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 raspberry mixture and stir until gelatin has dissolved.
3. Remove from heat and allow to cool (close to room temperature). If you're planning on layering by pouring on top of your Panna Cotta, a hot mixture will also heat up your chilled Panna Cotta.

Florentine Cookies
Adapted from Nestle
Makes 2-1/2 to 3 dozen cookies

2/3 cup (150 g) (5.3 oz) unsalted butter
2 cups quick oats
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/4 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1-1/2 cups (250 g) (9 oz) dark or milk chocolate

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare your baking sheets 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, 3 inches 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 (1.5 minutes) or on the stove top (in a double boiler).
5. Peel the cookies from the Silpat or parchment and place face down or a wire rack set over a sheet of 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.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Macarons à la rose - Rose Macarons

Another great recipe from my Macarons book by Gaëlle and Johan Crop! It was my first time in a long time trying out the French meringue method again so I was preparing a few days in advance. I ground the almond powder and powdered sugar together and let them air dry for 3 days. I also left the egg whites out of the fridge for 3 days.

I ran into a few problems though: my macarons barely had any feet and some cracked right in the middle. As I piped the macaron mixture on parchment paper, there were peaks that didn't smooth out, leaving me with not-so-smooth-looking shells! I was a bit disappointed but I have to admit they tasted almost like the ones from the shop!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Valentine's Ice Cream Sandwiches

I've been wanting to make ice cream sandwiches for the longest time, but I had no idea how to shape the ice cream like the cookie so they would fit perfectly. Won't the process of cutting ice cream with a cookie cutter, then getting it out and onto the cookies just make the ice cream all melted?

Wait, there's a solution! Heart-shaped silicone molds!

It just happened that I had a cookie cutter with the exact same shape as the silicone molds. We've had these molds at our house for the longest time but I've never used them once before this weekend! Just churn your ice cream and place it in these molds to freeze.

In order to remove the ice cream from the molds, run hot water under the molds, then carefully detach the ice cream from the molds, one heart at a time. Sandwich the ice cream between two cookies and voilà: beautiful ice cream cookies for your valentine!

Here's the chocolate cookie recipe I used (the dough is insanely addictive!!). Enjoy!


Chocolate Sablé Cookies
Adapted from Williams Sonoma
Makes about 40 cookies

3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 tsp salt
4 tbsp coarse sugar (optional)

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until creamy. Add the vanilla extract and eggs one at a time, beat until smooth. In another bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt. Reduce the speed of your mixer to low and gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Beat until blended.

Turn out the dough onto a floured work surface. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces, pat each into a flat disk and wrap them separately with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the disks for at least one hour. (You can also store the disks for future use: store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and in the freezer for up to 1 month. If freezing, place the well-wrapped disks in heavy-duty sealable plastic bags and thaw in the refrigerator overnight before using.)

When ready to roll out the dough, preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheet with parchment paper (or silicone mats).

On a work surface, place the disks between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and roll out the dough to about 1/8-inch thick. Using a heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out cookies. Transfer them to prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1-1/2 inches apart. Gather the scraps and cut out more cookies. Sprinkle the cookies with coarse sugar (optional, I didn't).

Bake the cookies until the edges are crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let the cookies cool briefly on the sheets. Transfer the cookies on the wire racks to cool completely.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Rum and Raisin Ice Cream

The first time I made this ice cream was last July and I found it had too much alcohol. Since rum and raisin ice cream is my mom's favorite and I'm also a really big fan, I couldn't leave it at that! So I remade it this weekend and it was unbelievable!! My secret: half the amount of alcohol in David Lebovitz's recipes from The Perfect Scoop! I also added some sugar and water to the raisins while simmering so they were sweeter! Love it!