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.
All month I have been putting off making this challenge for the simple reason that I didn't want to be the only one to eat it. Hey, Babe isn't really big on dessert (so he claims) and insists that he pretty much just sticks to cookies. Since the deadline for the challenges was very helpfully coinciding with our plans to visit my family, I was pleased to started whipping everything together. I hadn't anticipated any trouble. Since it just looked like a soft pudding to me, I thought it would be a cinch to make.
Actually, the Panna Cotta really was simple. I didn't have any trouble tweaking it to make the coconut version I had visions of. The trouble came when I tried to create a recipe for chocolate geleé. You see, my vision included a chocolate geleé layered with creamy coconut Panna Cotta and served with a crispy almond Florentine cookie alongside. Things didn't quite turn out the way I had planned. The chocolate geleé never actually set, which I discovered as I was ready to pour my assembled Panna Cotta into the dishes. On top of that, Hey, Babe became miserably ill with his second stomach virus in a month while I was in the middle of preparations. It turns out that I won't be having anyone to share my incredible dessert with after all since we did not feel inclined to spread the plague to another household and opted instead to stay home.
At the last minute I poured my coconut panna cotta into two large bowls and only one of the prepared glasses with the chocolate not-quite-geleé. Since the one I poured into the glass didn't really layer nicely I feel it was a wise choice. The chocolate not-really-at-all-geleé-now-that-I-think-about-it I simmered in a pot until it became a much thicker chocolate sauce. Tasty, but not what I had planned. The combination between the two was absolutely perfect. The bitterness of the chocolate subdued the sweetness of the panna cotta and danced together with the coconut in perfect harmony. It was exactly as I had hoped. The Florentine cookies added a pleasant crumbly crunch to an otherwise silky smooth experience and all in all I am completely satisfied with the results. The only shame was the lack of any appreciative audience to share it with.
To the given recipes I made the following changes:
-Substituted 1 can (2 cups) of coconut milk for the 1 cup of milk and 1 of the cups of heavy cream
-Substituted sugar for the honey (I wasn't sure how strong the coconut flavor was going to be and so I didn't want to take any chane that the honey would distract from it)
-Added 2/3 cup of chopped almonds to the cookies
-Substituted almond flour/meal for the all purpose flour (I think it made them quite crumbly but I liked them that way)