It's funny how I got into the groove of cooking and baking like mad on a day-to-day basis. Now, I've just returned from a five-week break from all of it, and I've honestly found it very hard to get back into the swing of things. Yet, I love baking. It's the only thing that I want to do usually (besides eating).
For five weeks, I didn't touch a kitchen appliance, or even a single knife for that matter. You'd figure that I'd be running to set the oven to 350 as soon as I got home! I'm blaming my travels, and the subsequent jet-lag for my procrastination and avoidance of this month's Daring Bakers challenge. Makes sense, no?
Actually, I think jet-lag has been kicking my butt. After writing one small paragraph for this post, checking my email a zillion times in an attempt to catch up on what seems like a lifetime's-worth of emails, and googling lots about panna cotta, I returned to bed, exhausted, at about 9:30AM. Then, I kind-of-may-have-slept until 3PM. I think I broke every jet-lag recovery rule out there with my 5.5-hour nap. I couldn't help it: my bed was calling me! And, with all that sleeping, who has time to put together panna cotta, jelly, and florentines?
|Me in Bali, surrounded by three hungry elephants. They are after the bamboo I stupidly had stashed in my hands|
Eventually, I got my lazy butt out of bed and into the kitchen to face the "Creamy Dreamy Crunchy Sweet February" challenge. When I finally made this dessert the first thing that came to mind was "better late then never!" because this mascarpone panna cotta with lemon gelée and florentine crumble really was creamy, dreamy, crunchy, and sweet! Pure bliss.
For this month's challenge, I opted to make a mascarpone panna cotta (loosely based on this recipe featured in the Toronto Star newspaper). I think my inspiration was cheesecake, and since lemons, and not raspberries (my go-to berry), are in season right now in North America, I topped the panna cotta with lemon gelée (which is a snooty, fancy way of saying jelly), tweaked from this recipe (the original recipe didn't work well so please note that I upped the gelatin amount). I found the florentine cookies (recipe tweaked from Nestlé) had a slight caramel flavor reminiscent of graham crackers, so I crumbled them over each of the panna cotta.
The finished dessert reminded me a lot of a lemon creamsicle, not quite the cheesecake flavor I had dreamed of. Still, I think they turned out beautifully, creamy and sweet on the bottom, with the tart jelly and nutty, crispy, caramel-y crumble on top. I'd definitely make these again. Here are the recipes that I came up with for this challenge. By the way, I suggest making the florentines and the panna cotta one day. Then, make the lemon jelly and assemble on the second day, half a day before serving.
Yields 18 5-inch florentines
The brown butter and maple syrup enhance the caramel flavor of this crispy cookie.
- 150 grams unsalted butter
- 160 grams quick oats
- 230 grams granulated sugar
- 95 grams all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup skim milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 375 °F.
- Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper or a Silpat.
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter on medium heat. Continue heating until the butter has browned. Remove from heat.
- To the saucepan, stir in the oats, sugar, flour, maple syrup, milk, vanilla, and the salt. Stir well until all the ingredients are incorporated.
- Drop tablespoons of the dough on the prepared sheet (no more than 6 per baking sheet), leaving a couple inches between t. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the cookies are evenly golden brown.
- Let them cool completely before transferring.
|Top florentines were baked for 15 minutes on a parchment-lined baking sheet, while the bottom florentines were baked for 8 minutes on a silpat-lined baking sheet. I preferred the more evenly browned florentines, personally.|
Mascarpone panna cotta
Yields ~ 2 cups of panna cotta, about 4 half-cup servings
This recipe will yield soft, silky panna cotta.
- 4 tbsp water
- 1 tsp knox unflavored gelatin
- 1 1/4 cups 35% cream, divided
- 1/2 cup mascarpone
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest (zest of ~ half a lemon)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- In a small stainless steel bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Set aside to bloom for about 5 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the mascarpone with the sugar, 1 cup of the cream, lemon zest, and vanilla. Set aside.
- Add the final 1/4 cup of cream to the bloomed gelatin, and set the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Heat the gelatin/cream mixture until the gelatin has dissolved and you can no longer see the gelatin flakes, stirring constantly.
- Take the gelatin off the heat and stir it into the mascarpone mixture.
- Pour the panna cotta into 4 glasses or ramekins.
- Transfer to the fridge and chill to set, about 3 hours, if not overnight.
Yields 1 1/2 cups jelly, enough to top the panna cottas and more
Given the acidity of the lemon juice, I used a full packet of gelatin so that it would set properly.
- 1/2 cup lemon juice, strained and divided
- 1 packet (~2.5 tsp) knox gelatin
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- Pour 1/4 cup of lemon juice in a 2-cup measurer or a medium bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over top. Set aside to bloom at least 5 minutes.
- In a small saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil to completely dissolve the sugar.
- Pour the syrup over the gelatin, and whisk to dissolve the gelatin.
- Add the remaining 1/4 cup of lemon juice. Let the lemon jelly cool to room temperature before using.
Putting it together
- When the panna cottas are set, and the lemon jelly has cooled to room temperature, pour the lemon jelly over top each of the panna cotta. Pour as little or as much as you would like (I poured a 1-inch layer on mine, but I think a half-inch would have been better).
- Chill in the fridge to set the jelly, about 1 hour.
- Crumble 2 of the florentine cookies over each of the panna cottas before serving.
Remember to check out all the other Daring Baker desserts on the Daring Kitchen site.