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Daring Bakers: Panna Cotta & Florentines

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Here are three facts about my first attempt at making panna cotta:
1. I enjoyed the process and experimenting with flavours, but had some problems along the way.
2. Neither the taste nor look was what I had envisioned.
3. It was delicious ­­– which makes facts 1 and 2 irrelevant.

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.

Here's the original recipe in pdf. For all the fantastic pictures from other Daring Bakers, go to The Daring Kitchen.

A cool dessert ­­– now that's what you want when you live in a hot, humid country, and panna cotta and jelly is perfect.

Mallory apologises for the enormous amount of fat in this panna cotta. So it has a lot of cream in it. Well, add rich, thick coconut milk (instead of plain milk) to that, as I have, and anyone with even the slightest issue with their heart or cholesterol level should stay away from it. This is TO BE EATEN ONLY IN MODERATION! (Apologies for shouting out this warning with the capital letters and exclamation point.)

Agar-agar strips and kaffir lime leaves
In attempt No.1, kaffir lime leaves were steeped in the coconut milk for flavour. The coconut milk came out of a box. Instead of gelatin (which is available here), I used agar-agar (I can't really say how much; just eye-balled it), and used palm sugar instead of white sugar. I also made a gelée from fresh coconut water. The panna cotta is made in a rose-shaped silicone mould.

The citrus taste wasn't as strong as I would have liked it to be, but the panna cotta was creamy and still delicious.

For the florentines, instead of instant oats, I used rolled oats which I processed for a bit. In terms of shape and "lacy-ness", they came out perfect. But they were a little too sweet. I also added a bit of minced crystallised ginger.

Attempt No. 2: Moulded (left) and layered in a glass
In the second attempt, I squeezed milk from grated fresh coconut and left the kaffir lime leaves in the coconut milk overnight and a stronger flavour came through. I had to stop myself from drinking the mixture on its own! The gelée was layered on top of the panna cotta so that the rose shape was more defined. Before processing the rolled oats, I toasted them first and that made the florentines taste better, but they didn't come out lacy. However, I liked the taste better than the first attempt.

The middle layer in the glass is plain jelly with Kahlúa added to it. It goes very well with the rest of the flavours.


  1. WOW! Your second attempt is stunning! Great job. I really love what you did with both your designs and testing the recipe with the added flavors and toasting your oats. The next time I make the cookies I'm going to try trading out some of the white flour and add some nut flour in to see if it enhances the flavor of the cookie at all.

  2. Wow! You went all the way on this challenge! I agree with you about the coconut panna cotta, I should've substituted the cream and not the milk for coconut milk. It turned out overly rich. I'm considering trying agar agar now that I've seen so many awesome results like yours. Love the rose shaped one!

  3. I'm seeing a few panna cotta with coconut milk and know I'll be trying that out one of these days. Yours rose shaped one looks pretty.
    And you're right in shouting out that warning. :)

  4. Amazing flavor combos--but I am a huge fan of southeast asian flavors! I love kafir lime--this looks amazing!

  5. I love idea of coconut milk and the first photo is stunning well done on this challenge.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.


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