Sunday, February 27, 2011

Daring Bakers Challenge : Ginger Panna Cotta with Raspberry/ Mango Gelée and Coconut 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.

I had Panna Cotta on my long list of desserts to try. I am not sure why I never got to it but this month's challenge gave me the perfect excuse.
Our good friends were invited for dinner the night before Valentine's Day and this seemed the best occasion to get my Panna Cotta on!
I decided on a Ginger/Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta because I love all things ginger and I fancied it up with raspberry gelée  and mango gelée. I am posting Mallory's recipe for Fruit Gelée as she wrote it. I have altered the Panna Cotta and Florentine cookies just a bit. I sandwiched some of the cookies, left some plain and used some cool transfer sheets for the rest to give a little love to Valentine's Day!

Three flavors and one delicious dessert!

The  Raspberry and Mango Gelée
Mango puree with sugar just before it hits the fire.

Raspberries pureeing in the food processor.

Fruit Gelée: Recipe by Mallory


 1 cup (240 ml) (230 gm) (8 oz) fruit (strawberries, raspberries, mango, blackberry, etc.)
3 tablespoons (45 ml) water 1/4 cup (60 ml) (60 gm) (2 oz) granulated sugar 1½ teaspoons (7½ ml) (3½ gm) (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 strawberry mixture and stir until gelatin has dissolved.
3. Remove from heat and allow to cool (close to room temp, again, if you're planning on layering on pouring on top of your Panna Cotta, a hot mixture will also heat up your chilled Panna Cotta).

The specks in the cooling Panna Cotta are from the vanilla bean

Ginger Panna Cotta

1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
1/2 inch nob fresh ginger,peeled and cut into 6 slices
1/2 vanilla bean,sliced lengthwise
1 tablespoon (one packet) (15 ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
3 cups (720 ml) whipping cream (30+% butterfat)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt

1. Pour 1/4 cup of the cold milk into a small heatproof container. Sprinkle the gelatin over it making sure that all the gelatin soaks into the milk. Allow to stand for 5 minutes.
2. Pour the rest of the milk,the heavy cream, sugar, pinch of salt, the vanilla bean and the ginger slices a large  saucepan/pot and place over medium heat on the stove. Heat this mixture until it is hot, but not boiling, about five minutes. (I whisk it a few times at this stage). Turn off the heat and allow to stand for about 20 minutes. Strain out ginger slices and vanilla bean being sure to scrape the seeds from the pod into the milk mixture with a knife. Return to low heat.
3. Bring a small saucepan filled about an inch of water to a boil and then shut off heat. Add the heatproof bowl of gelatin as a bain marie and allow gelatin to dissolve swirling often. Be sure to pull gelatin off heat as soon as it dissolves.
4. Add dissolved gelatin to the hot milk mixture, turn off heat and 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.

Florentine Cookies with Coconut-Very easy to put together!

Coconut Florentine Cookies

2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm) (5.3 oz) unsalted butter 2 cups (480 ml) (160 gm) (5 2/3 oz) quick oats
1 cup (240 ml) (230 gm) (8 oz) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (160 ml) (95 gm) (3⅓ oz) plain (all purpose) flour
1/4 cup (60 ml) dark corn syrup
1/4 cup (60 ml) whole milk
1/2 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
1/2 tsp (5 ml) coconut extract
pinch of salt
1½ cups (360 ml) (250 gm) (9 oz) white chocolate
Chocolate Raspberry Ganache(recipe follows)

 Preheat oven to moderately hot 375°F (190°C) (gas mark 5). Prepare your baking sheet 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, extracts, and salt. Mix well. Drop a tablespoon full, three inches (75 mm) 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 1/2 minutes, stopping every 30 seconds to stir), or stovetop (in a double boiler, or a bowl that fits atop a saucepan filled with a bit of water, being sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl).
5. Peel the cookies from the silpat or parchment and place face down on a wire rack set over a sheet of wax/parchment paper (to keep counters clean).
6. Spread a tablespoon of melted chocolate on the bottom/flat side of your cookie and return to rack chocolate side up until chocolate sets.  I used a heart imprinted transfer sheet to imprint a design onto the cookie.

Bake cookies until golden brown at the sides

This recipe will make about 2 1/2 - 3 dozen sandwiched Florentine cookies. You can use the yummy filling below.

Chocolate Raspberry Ganache

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1/16 teaspoon raspberry extract

Heat heavy cream in microwave for about 1 minute or until very hot. Add chocolate pieces, allow to stand one minute, and stir until smooth. Add softened butter. Add extract. Cool until thick enough to spread on cookies.

Chocolate raspberry ganache sandwiches these Florentines


Or if you want a different look:

My friend using the heart transfer sheet and white chocolate.

Pressing down firmly to get the whole cookie imprinted


Allow the chocolate to set.

Choose your Cookie!

A de-light-ful ending to the evening!

Thanks Mallory for a great Challenge!   Evelyn

Monday, February 14, 2011

Cake Pops

Aren't these cute?
I made them from the Wilton Pop! Sweets on a Stick book. They were easy to make but the decorations were a bit tedious.
I crumbled up one layer of chocolate pound cake and mixed it with 1/2 cup buttercream icing. Make sure to mash it together well. It should resemble cookie dough before rolling into balls. I used two tablespoons for each ball and chilled them for about 2 hours. This is an important step. I only chilled them about 30 minutes the first time and they crumbled all over the place.


I dipped 6-inch lollipop sticks into melted chocolate and inserted them about halfway into the pop. Then I chilled them again while I melted the Candy Melts for dipping and made the little fondant flowers.


I started with a pale pink pre-tinted Wilton fondant and added a pinch of  Gum-Tex for structure. I rolled the fondant to 1/16th inch and used my small blossom cutter with an ejector to cut the flowers. Then I pushed them into thick foam to eject and shape them.

I made some yellow and pink blossoms. Then, I added a dot of yellow royal icing to the center of the blossoms with a #3 round tip.

I dipped some of the pops in three colors of Candy Melts, dark cocoa, pink and red.
I dipped some pops in dark cocoa and then added the blossoms before the Candy Melts set. This was a challenge and I had to work quickly. I added a teaspoon of vegetable oil to each cup of Candy Melts when melting. They were otherwise too thick to dip. You may need to do this depending on the age of your Candy Melts.
I arranged the tri-colors in a gift box for my sweet hubbie.
 I placed the topiary pops in the Brownie-flower pot.

These were a fair amount of work but I think are worth the effort.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


I needed brownies for a project this weekend and I also had a fudgy chocolate craving.
Having been disappointed by my current recipes, I decided to experiment.
I looked through several pastry books that I have and could not find a basic recipe...can you believe it!
So, reluctantly I pulled out King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion. I have not had a lot of success with the recipes from this book. I really am not sure why I keep it around. But I am glad I did because these brownies were good. No, they were great. I gave a day old brownie to a friend who stopped by (one of those honest ones who will tell it just like it is) and she said they were the best brownies she has ever tasted. I had to agree.
I baked the brownies in little silicone pot molds and  Brownie Pop Molds for my project and there was enough for an 8-inch square. The recipe calls for a 9x13x2 pan but the recipe was very adaptable to my molds.
Beating the eggs for the required time, I think, was the defining step that made these Brownies light and fudgy. I often feel so stuffed after I eat brownies but I had to walk away from the kitchen so I would not go after another brownie. I can also see adding a little flavor here and there to enhance the brownies. For my project, I kept them nuts or fill-ins like chocolate chips. They were just plain good and cut beautifully.  I did tweak the recipe method a little bit from the original and found it more user friendly. There are some wordy variations to the recipe that K.A. is known for but I ignored them because I wanted it simple. 
 I wish you were here to try these brownies but I am posting the recipe for you. Make a batch and maybe cut them into heart shapes with a cookie cutter for your sweetie!

Brownies - Adapted from King Arthur Baker's Companion

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup add-ins, optional

In a medium sized saucepan, melt the butter, and chocolate together over low heat. Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 pan.
2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, vanilla, salt, sugar and corn syrup together until light and fluffy, about five minutes.
3. Stir in the chocolate butter mixture. Add the flour stirring to combine. Stir in the optional items.
4. Spread the batter into the pan. Bake the brownies for 35 minutes, a tooth pick inserted into the center should come out coated with clinging bits of chocolate. Remove the brownies from the oven and bring to room temperature before cutting into squares or shapes.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes

This is the first of my chocolate series leading up to Valentine's Day.

I made these cupcakes from Alice's Tea Cup Cookbook.
They were very easy to make and smelled heavenly while baking.
When they came out of the oven and cooled a bit, we decided to taste test them. Well, we never got around to icing these dark jewels because they were delicious unadorned. They were so light and moist that I ate three before I could stop myself. After the tasting, there were only two left and that hardly seemed worth icing so I saved them until later. They were not quite as wonderful the next day but I think if I had filled them with a little whipped cream and decorated them, they would have soared back up to super stardom.
This is  my go-to chocolate cupcake recipe now. 
You won't be disappointed if you try this recipe. The batter is easy and the results are delectable. Get them in the oven and pour yourself a cup of that freshly brewed coffee. Luscious cupcakes are about 20 minutes away

Chocolate Cake -  from Alice's Tea Cup

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup hot coffee, freshly brewed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 12 slot cupcake tin with liners or three 8-inch pans with a non stick spray like Pam.
 In a large bowl, sift together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
 With a mixer on medium speed, add the sour cream, eggs(one at a time), milk, oil and vanilla to the dry ingredients and keep mixing for two minutes, scraping often.
 With the mixer on low speed, slowly drizzle in the hot coffee, mixing until the batter is blended and smooth. It will be very thin in consistency-this is good.

Divide the batter among the cake pans or cupcake tins about 2/3's full and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes for cakes and 15 to 20 minutes for cupcakes.

 Remove from oven onto a cooling rack. Cool ten minutes and remove cakes from pans onto the cooling rack. Allow the cakes to come to room temperature before frosting.