Sunday, February 27, 2011

Daring Bakers:Panna Cotta and Florentines

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.

 We chose to make a cappuccino panna cotta, with coffee flavor on the bottom and a thin layer of vanilla on the top. We love this dessert because it is easy to make and can be adapted in so many ways to suit individual tastes. The Florentine cookies are a fun cookie that look fancy, but are also easy to make. The dark corn syrup gives a better golden color, but either way, they are crispy and tasty. The cookies that we spread the thinnest before baking yielded the better cookie- they were thin and crisp, while the thicker ones ended up too chewy. We found that a very thin layer of chocolate was best, as too much chocolate overpowers the delicate cookie and we wanted the sweet oat taste to shine. As much as we love chocolate, these were also good on their own. We enjoyed our afternoon in the kitchen on this challenge and I would definitely make both of these recipes again!  

Cappuccino Panna Cotta
1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
1 tablespoon (one packet) unflavored powdered gelatin
3 cups (720 ml) whipping cream
1/3 cup  granulated sugar
2 teaspoons Vanilla
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
pinch of salt

1. In a small bowl pour milk and sprinkle with gelatin, let stand for 5 minutes to soften gelatin.
2.Heat  cream, salt  and sugar until it is hot but not boiling and the sugar is dissolved. Add the milk and gelatin mixture to the hot cream. Continue stirring over the heat (do not boil) for about 5 minutes to dissolve the gelatin.
3.Remove from heat and add vanilla. Reserve 1 cup of the vanilla flavored panna cotta mix at room temperature. To the remaining mixture add the 2 teaspoon instant espresso power and stir to combine.
4. Pour espresso panna cotta into individual bowls and refrigerate about 20 to 30 minutes to set.

5. Carefully add the vanilla flavored panna cotta mix over the espresso base.
5.Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. Add garnishes and serve.

printable recipe

Nestle's Florentines
2/3 cup butter
2 cups quick oats
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light or dark corn syrup
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups (11.5 oz. pkg.) Dark or  Milk Chocolate Morsels


PREHEAT oven to 375° F. Line baking sheets with foil. I used silpats

MELT butter in medium saucepan;  and  remove from heat (I used the microwave and a medium size bowl). Stir in oats, sugar, flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla extract and salt; mix well. Drop by level teaspoons, about 3 inches apart, onto lined baking sheets. Spread thinly with rubber spatula. I used a small off set spatula dipped in water to spread them thin.

BAKE for 6 to 8 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets on wire racks.

MICROWAVE morsels in medium, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on MEDIUM-HIGH (70%) power for 1 minute; STIR. Morsels may retain some of their original shape. If necessary, microwave at additional 10 to 15-second intervals, stirring just until morsels are melted. Spread thin layer of melted chocolate onto flat side of half the cookies. Top with remaining cookies to make sandwiches.
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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Rustic Dinner Rolls

I really don't know where the time goes. It's not that I haven't been working in the kitchen, I have, but getting the recipes to the blog is another matter entirely. 
 If you are a bread lover you are in for a treat. This recipe comes from the Cook's Illustrated Holiday baking issue and has fast become a family favorite.  It's basically an an easy recipe since all the kneading is done with your mixer, but there are a few steps involved. When you need that perfect crusty dinner roll, give these a try- you won't be sorry!

Rustic Dinner Rolls
I find it best to weigh the ingredients.

12 1/2 ounces (1 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) warm water
1 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons honey
16 1/2 ounces  (3 cups plus 1 tablespoon) bread flour
1 ounce (3 tablespoons) whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoon table salt.

1. In you mixer bowl whisk water, honey and yeast until combined. Add flours and mix on low speed with dough hook until dough is formed, about 3 minutes.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature 30 minutes. 

2. Remove plastic wrap and sprinkle the salt over the dough. Knead on low speed (KitchenAid speed 2) for 5 minutes.  Increase the speed to medium and continue to knead until dough is smooth and slightly tacky, about 1 minute.  If your dough is too sticky, add an additional 1 -2 tablespoons flour and mix 1 more minute.  Turn dough into a 2 qt bowl that has been sprayed with cooking spray or lightly oiled.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft free, place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

3. When the dough has doubled, remove plastic wrap and starting at the 12 o'clock position, fold the dough over on it's self. Rotate the bowl a quarter turn and fold again. Rotate bowl and fold again. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise  30 minutes.  Repeat folding, replace plastic wrap and let dough rise until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes. Because the dough is sticky make sure that your hands are well floured.

4.Pre heat oven to 500 degrees. Spray with non-stick cooking spray  (or oil)  2  - 9 inch cake pans. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface, divide in half.  Stretch each half into a 16 inch long log, cut each log into 8 pieces.  With floured hands put each piece, cut side up in the cake pan  with 1 in the center and the others  around it with the long side of the roll going from the center to the edge of the pan.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rolls rise until doubled in size about 30 minutes.  Dough is ready when it springs back slowly when pressed lightly with finger.

5. Spray rolls lightly with water, I use my Misto, and bake for 10 minutes, the tops of the rolls will be light brown.  Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 400 degrees. Turn the rolls out on to a rimmed baking sheet, turn right side up and separate into individual rolls, space rolls evenly on the pan and return to the oven,  bake until a brown crust develops on all sides, about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.

Notes: I have used both unbleached flour with white whole wheat flour, and bread flour with white whole wheat flour with excellent results.  Additionally, when pinched for time I have shaped the rolls after the first rotate/fold/rise and still got fabulous rolls.
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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

TWD: January Roundup

Here is a quick roundup of the January recipes. Margo of Effort to Deliciousness chose Fluff-Filled Chocolate Madeleines. Chocolate madeleines are filled with marshmallow fluff filling and dipped in dark chocolate ganache.The madeleines were good, and the ganache really picked up the chocolate taste, however marshmallow fluff doesn't have a strong flavor and the little bit that made it into the madeleine didn't have much impact. We thought a raspberry jam would make a great filling with the double chocolate flavor in the cookies.

Betsy of A Cup of Sweetness chose Lemon Poppyseed Muffins. We really liked these lemony muffins. They were moist and flavorful, unlike the dry crumbly ones you come across almost everywhere. We made half with lemon curd filling and half without.

 The curd disappeared into the muffin as it baked, but we sloved that problem by adding more curd when we ate them. Next time we thought we would put a lemon streusel topping on them to dress them up a bit.

We almost didn't make the Nutty, Chocolatly, Swirly Sour Cream Bundt Cake that Jennifer of Cooking for Comfort chose. I've been making similar sour cream cakes since I was a teenager and I had a recipe that I liked. I'm sure glad that I had a change of heart and that Mimi Jr. had the time to put this extraordinary cake into the oven. 

Orange, chocolate, cinnamon, raisins and nuts combine with a velvety textured cake to make this the best sour cream swirl cake I've ever had.  I'm not sure if it's Dorie's recipe, or if Mimi Jr. is just an excellent baker, but this is one of my top five recipes from Dorie's book.

printable recipe

 We did skip the Midnight Crackles cookies as we were not in much of a cookie mood after our holiday cookies. Recipes can be found by following the link to  the recipe host's blog. As always, we are looking forward to the February recipes.