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. Mallory gave us the option of making a chocolate Panna Cotta and of course being the chocoholic that I am that was my choice. And you know what? That’s a whole heap-o chocolate and it’s super intense. The ½ cup of sugar gets lost in the bittersweet chocolate. Wow, I can’t believe I’m close to the point of complaining about too much chocolate. Then to top it off I used candy dessert cups as containers for some of them and topped them with, you guessed it, white chocolate. I wanted chocolate and I got it.
Chocolate Panna Cotta
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit
1 cup whole milk
1 TBS (¼ oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
2 cups whipping cream (30+% butterfat)
½ cup (4 oz) sugar
¾ cup (5 oz) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
½ tsp vanilla extract
extra chocolate for molding, garnish (optional)
Pour milk into a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over the top, set aside for 2-5 minutes. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir in cream, sugar and vanilla. Bring to a low boil. Add chocolate and whisk until melted. Whisk the milk/gelatin mixture into chocolate cream mixture. Whisk until gelatin has dissolved. Transfer to ramekins, or nice glasses for serving. Cover and chill at least 8 hours, or overnight
Nestle Florentine Cookies – Recipe from the cookbook “Nestle Classic Recipes”.
2/3 cup unsalted butter
2 cups quick oats
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup all purpose) flour
¼ cup dark corn syrup
¼ cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1½ cups (9 oz) dark or milk chocolate
Preheat oven to moderately hot 375°F (190°C) (gas mark 5). Prepare your baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper. Melt butter in a medium saucepan, then remove from the heat. To the melted butter add oats, sugar, flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla, and salt. Mix well. Drop a TBS full, three inches (75 mm) apart, onto your prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly with the back of your TBS, or use a spatula. Bake in preheated oven for 6-8 minutes, until cookies are golden brown. Cool completely on the baking sheets.
While the cookies are cooling melt your chocolate until smooth either in the microwave (1 1/2 minutes), 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).
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). Spread a TBS of chocolate on the bottom/flat side of your cookie, sandwiching another (flat end) cookie atop the chocolate. This recipe will make about 2 1/2 – 3 dozen sandwiched Florentine cookies. You can also choose not to sandwich yours, in which case, drizzle the tops with chocolate (over your wax paper).
Hope you’ve got room for part 2 of my CNN story. Here we go!
My New You Revolution Pt 2
Home improvements were underway at our house, and I was expecting a delivery from Lowes. They were scheduled to arrive by noon. 11:15 Miriam calls, she needs the picture by noon. Wonderful, how am I going to pull this one off? Shanaan was crying and Gabbi was fussy, and what on earth was I going to wear. It had to be something that made be look thinner, so of course it had to be black. Never mind the fact that I was over fifty pounds overweight, I wanted the miracle outfit, and I didn’t have much to choose from. Once I located my red carpet outfit, it took a great deal of sucking it in to get the skirt zipped up. By this time I’m sweating profusely from squeezing into a skirt that was too small and running around trying to get the babies quiet and satisfied. Grabbing the camera and my daughter we got ready for my close up. She got me in focus for the first shot and the doorbell rang, it was Lowes. The photo shoot would have to wait.
Our garage was the place designated for the building material to be stored. Only one problem, the garage is where Mr. Puppy, the rotteiler’s house was. Zeke didn’t like anyone but us and was quick to sound the alert when someone arrived. He wasn’t going to allow any outsiders in his domain. We decided to put him in a bathroom right off from the garage. So here I am in my Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes trying to coax a 130lb dog that is all muscle, inside. By now he’s heard the truck and strange voices so he knows something is up. Puppy didn’t budge. I pulled, he dug in. I pushed, he didn’t move. Almost on his back like he was a horse I’m pleaded with him to get in the bathroom, still nothing. Plan B, he likes crackers maybe I can bait him. Snatching a box of crackers from the nearby pantry, I step inside the bathroom hoping he will follow me. Plan C, I scatter the crackers on the steps leading into the basement; he took the bait. With the dog secured inside I turn my attention back to the delivery. Just my luck I get a chatty delivery person. From past experience I know to check the inventory sheet to make sure everything that is supposed to be there is. I’m checking and the driver is talking, I’m still sweating and the driver is still talking. After what seemed like an eternity, all the goods were present and accounted for and the delivery people were on their way.
Getting Zeke back into his house wasn’t difficult, he wanted to find out what had been going on outside. Tossing another handful of crackers to Mr. Puppy I raced back inside. Time was of the essence, and I wanted to get those pictures out of the way. Not so fast Granny, the kids were still not happy campers. With twenty minutes before noon, Charisse and I get the kids to some semblance of satisfaction and pick up where we left off.. Its safe to say that I am the least photogenic person in the family, blinking is definitely one of my strong suits. Four takes and I’m done. Moving as quickly as my arthritic knees would allow I race to the computer to download the pictures. In my haste I forgot to delete the old pictures on the disc. Which meant I had to download all forty-one pictures to get the four that I wanted. It was 11:50. Our computer wasn’t in a cooperative mood that day so that procedure went on until 12:03. With it all complete I sent them off to Miriam with a quick email asking her to let me know that she received them and also that I had an amusing story to tell her about the picture-taking ordeal.
As luck would have it, my hastily shot pictures were well received by the selection committee, I was a finalist. Ever so cautious, but excited about the possibility of feeling whole again I gave in to daydreaming about working out and teaching once more. Another week passed before Miriam called again. More pictures, this time they wanted shots of the entire family, particularly Casey, Theresa, and their boys. That assignment was easier, and more fun. The day before Thanksgiving the committee made their decision , I would be one of the five participants in CNN’s New You Revolution 2005. Now the whole family was excited and boy did we have a ton of questions. Would it be like a reality show? Did we have to live with cameras in the house round the clock? How often would I/we be on television? All those and more would soon be answered.
First things first, there were release papers to be signed, and a video camera to rent. We had to record our family having Thanksgiving dinner. As fate would have it, Theresa was home on leave and planned to have Thanksgiving dinner with us, before joining her family in Detroit later that evening. It was also mandatory that I have a physical; just to ensure that I was well enough to do whatever the producers had planned . Miriam Falco and her crew of two would be on hand filming the whole thing. Immediately my stomach tied in knots. Embarrassed at the thought of a possible wardrobe malfunction, I elicited a promise from Miriam that I didn’t have to be filmed in my skivvies. “Get ready,” she warned me, things might get a little crazy along the way. She didn’t know the half of it. Sadly since then we had to have Mr. Puppy put down and it was one of the most heart breaking days of my life. He was our sixth child; our very furry son. Stay tuned for the next installment.