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.
I’ve been collecting panna cotta recipes made with agar instead of gelatin for years but I’ve never gotten around to actually making one so I was excited that this months challenge pushed me to do it. It’s really an easy substitution, I used coconut milk instead of cream and 2 tablespoons of agar flakes for every two cups of liquid. Agar is a clear sea vegetable that works as a gelling agent. You can find it most natural food or Asian food stores.
The florentine cookies were an added bonus. This was a fairly easy challenge for me because the florentine recipe didn’t call for eggs, and I had all of the ingredients already. Quick oats, flour, sugar, organic corn syrup, non dairy creamer and vanilla extract.
I do recommend that after you mix these ingredients together, you let them sit for 5 or 10 minutes before you try to put put them on the baking sheet. The oats and flour will absorb some of the liquid and make them much easier to handle. Another suggestion is to use your spatula to reshape them right after they come out of the oven. They spread out a lot when they bake and not always in a perfect circle. So I suggest that you nudge them back into a circle but you have to do that immediately when they’re still hot.
You also want to be sure that they have cooled completely before you try to fill them with chocolate. The chocolate should be allowed to cool some as well or it will tend to “bleed” through the cookies. I also suggest that you don’t spread the chocolate out to the very edge of the cookie because it will spread out when you put the other cookie on top.
I thought that the cookies should have been crispier, even though I baked them for the maximum time that was suggested. They were crispy around the edges but not so much in the middle. I love these cookies but I might try a different recipe next time, or spread the batter out a little more.
Makes 7 cookies - Use organic ingredients whenever possible
5 tablespoons Earth Balance butter substitute
1 cup quick oats
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup unbleached all purpose flour
2 tablespoons organic corn syrup
2 tablespoons unflavored non dairy creamer (I use Wildwood)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
4 oz chocolate (any kind will do, use your favorite)
Preheat your oven to 375°
Melt the butter substitute in a medium saucepan and then remove it from the heat.
Add the sugar, corn syrup, creamer and vanilla and stir.
Add the oats, flour, and salt and stir again.
Let the dough sit for 5-10 minutes.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Form golf ball sized balls of dough and space them at least 3 inches apart on the cookie sheet.
Bake for 8 minutes and allow to cool before removing them from the sheet.
Turn half of the cookies over.
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler and let it cool somewhat.
Put a tablespoon of chocolate on each upside down cookie and cover with another one.
Allow the chocolate to cool completely before eating.
Coconut Panna Cotta
Makes approximately 4 servings depending on the size of the mold
1 14oz can coconut milk
1/4 cup unflavored non dairy creamer
2 tablespoons agar flakes (or 2 teaspoons agar powder)
3 tablespoons honey or light agave
1 pinch of salt
Put all of the ingredients in a heavy sauce pan and let it sit for 5 minutes.
Heat the pan slowly, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes, do not let it boil.
Pour the hot liquid it to your molds
Allow to cool for 15 minutes before refrigerating.
Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.
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