In any area of interest, there are always those complex terms that describe something simple, culinary arts included. You’ve got sous vide—basically boil-in-a-bag, except fancier. Tempering eggs—kitchen speak for “whisk like mad so they don’t scramble in your custard.” Panna cotta—pretty much the cooler, Italian equivalent of pudding. Which brings me to this month’s challenge.
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, which left me excited to no end. For starters, panna cotta has always been a dessert that I’ve wanted to try. Then there’s the fact that it is so, so versatile when it comes to flavorings.
While the initial challenge specified vanilla or chocolate panna cotta, I could not resist making it my own and scouring the internet for a recipe that somehow involved coffee. Happening upon this one from Baking Obsession made all my caffeinated dreams (of which there are many) come true with the addition of a salted caramel sauce on top, to cut the sweetness of the creamy goodness underneath.
After whipping all this together (read: it took me two days), I not only found myself with a new spark of inspiration vis-à-vis all panna cotta matters, but also a shell-shocked sweet tooth. Suffice it to say that the combination of the mocha panna cotta and those thin oatmeal cookies, sandwiching a layer of melted chocolate, was quite a blow. In my next attempt, I think these two items will be kept separate, because it was difficult to fully enjoy each of them paired together. In fact, the sugary combination sent me running straight to a tin of sour cream and onion Pringles, such was my need to balance the overpowering sweetness.
That being said, I would highly recommend trying either of these recipes on their own, as both are quite yummy, especially the Florentine cookies. As previously mentioned, panna cotta is a revelation in itself—deliciously creamy and smooth—and will definitely be making more appearances in my kitchen and my tummy. If you’re interested in any more information about the particulars of this month’s challenge, you can, as always, check out the info at The Daring Kitchen.