Vanilla Panna Cotta with Rose Syrup & Florentine Cookies - Daring Bakers, February 2011

It's been a really crazy couple of weeks. There have been visitors, family, travel, a dessert buffet and a whole lotta busy going on.  Whilst it's been fun, my sleep and exercise regime have suffered. Amongst all this I decided to join the Daring Bakers and Daring Cooks challenges where a group of bakers & cooks come together once a month to try something new. I joined and waited for the February challenge to be released. To my surprise the challenge involved baking two different items. What a month to join I thought as I haunted various websites looking for unusual flavour combinations and ideas for my Panna Cotta.

Every so often, we all bake or cook something and..... well........ It Fails!

I once forgot to add sugar to a cake I was making - Fail. Then there was the time Pete's Mum came to stay with us and wanting to impress I decided to make a fish dish from one of Jamie Oliver's cookbooks. The fish had to be cooked on salt and then added to another dish. Lets just say it was a tad over salty and we ended up rather parched! I think this dish contributed to the start of Sydney's water shortage - Fail

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 Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

Two very different beasts.

We were given two recipes for the Panna Cotta, a vanilla one and a chocolate one. Looking at the vanilla recipe I wasn't sure I was going to like it. I have always made Panna Cotta using cream, sugar, vanilla and gelatine sheets rather than the milk/cream combo, honey and powdered gelatine the recipe called for. I should have heard the alarm bells bellowing then. But I went with it.

I decided I would make the vanilla recipe rather than the chocolate one as I wanted to keep it simple, particularly since I was going to have to make cookies too. I also chose to make a rose water syrup to go with the Panna Cotta. I used gelatine sheets rather than the powdered gelatine the below recipe called for.

For the Florentine cookies, we were able to choose the chocolate and add nuts if we wanted. I didn't add any nuts and chose to sandwich my cookies with dark chocolate as I find milk chocolate too sweet when it comes to most cookies.

Here are the two recipes provided for the challenge:

Giada's Vanilla Panna Cotta

The Vanilla Panna Cotta (Fail) with my divine rose water syrup

Equipment required
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Two medium sized heavy bottom pot or saucepan
  • Wooden spoon and/or whisk
  • Glasses or ramekins - something to pour and serve your Panna Cotta in
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Silpat or wax paper or parchment paper
  • Baking sheet
  • Small bowl


1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
1 tablespoon (one packet) (15 ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
3 cups (720 ml) whipping cream (30+% butterfat)
1/3 cup (80 ml) honey
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) granulated sugar
pinch of salt


1. Pour the milk into a bowl or pot and sprinkle gelatin evenly and thinly over the milk (make sure the bowl/pot is cold by placing the bowl/pot in the refrigerator for a few minutes before you start making the Panna Cotta). Let stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.

2. Pour the milk into the 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).

3. Next, add the cream, honey, sugar, and pinch of salt. Making sure the mixture doesn't boil, continue to heat and stir occasionally until the sugar and honey have dissolved 5-7 minutes.

4. Remove from heat, 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. Add garnishes and serve.

I made the Panna Cotta, poured the mixture into the ramekins, placed them into the fridge and started on the cookies.

Nestle 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 ( I only had light corn syrup and used this instead)
1/4 cup (60 ml) whole milk
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1½ cups (360 ml) (250 gm) (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.

1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan, then remove from the heat.

2. To the melted butter add oats, sugar, flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla, 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), or stove top (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 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).

The cookies turned out quite well. I had never made Florentines before and they are certainly a unique cookie. I'm glad I made and tried them but I don't think I will be in a hurry to make another batch. Give me a good choc chip cookie any day!

Having made the cookies I turned my attention back to the Panna Cotta's in the fridge. 

It had been about 4 hours and I noticed they hadn't started to set. What the? I was expected at a family dinner in 2 hours and I was bringing dessert - The Panna Cotta's . It was too late to make a fresh batch and besides I was out of ingredients. The cookies would have to suffice. In a crazy attempt to salvage the PC's I placed them into the freezer for an hour whilst I got ready.

Result - An Absolute Debacle!

They didn't set and I was really disappointed.It was apparent that in my baking fury I had added the usual amount of gelatine required for my own PC recipe and had forgotten to adjust it to accommodate for the extra liquid in the new recipe - the milk. Up until this point I had never had a problem with making PC's. I was actually relieved when I first read the challenge because I consider it one of my easiest and favourite desserts. 

Moral of the story - If you have a tried and tested recipe that you use on a regular basis, don't adapt it, don't try a new one, just stick with it!

One positive was that I made a killer rose water syrup, and I will be definitely adding it to future cooking endeavours. As a bonus it was super easy! I think it would be great drizzled over a good quality vanilla bean ice cream too.

Super Easy Rose Water Syrup

1/2 cup white sugar
2 Tbs rose water
1 drop of red food colouring ( I use Americolor red)


Add all 3 ingredients to a saucepan and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Gently bring to a simmer and reduce heat. Stir it now and again until you reach your desired consistency. I wanted mine to be quite thick and syrupy so I kept it on the heat for about 15 minutes stirring occasionally. 

Do be careful though because it gets REALLY hot!

A Gorgeous Rose-  Cambridge, England


You can check out more about the Daring Bakers Challenges by clicking here 


  1. I feel you! When baking or making sweets use a tried and tested recipe... My Valentine's Day post had to be demoted from a white choc mudcake with oolong tea icing, rose petals and tempered choc leaves to heart-shaped sandwiches because of a fail on all fronts! Love the sugar syrup though :-)

  2. Oh no! So sorry to hear about the panna cotta not setting! That can happen to the best of us :) the florentines look lovely though! :)

  3. Gorgeous! I've recently renewed my affection for rosewater but, after buying a bottle and using about a teaspoon, have been at a loss as to what to do with it. I foresee some rose syrup-topped ice cream, oatmeal, and yoghurt in my future...

  4. It stillls looks beautiful, great idea to pair it with rose.
    It probably still tasted great!
    And your florentine cookies look somewhat delicious, especially with that chocolate on top!


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