The Daring Bakers Challenge - February 2011 - Panna Cotta!

When this month's challenge was posted, I felt a little let down initially... after the hype of last month's uber challenging biscuit jaconde, the thought of making "simple panna cotta" seemed a little too easy. And while it was a technically simple procedure to make panna cotta, making layered panna cotta with other various elements including florentine cookies & homemade nuttella transformed this dessert into something spectacular which I think is what Mallory had in mind when she selected this fabulous challenge. It really gave me the opportunity to be creative and bring an otherwise simple dessert up a notch.

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. It was a great challenge and I'm so thankful to Mallory for showing us how to make Panna Cotta. It was amazing to see how the other Daring Bakers really stepped it up for this challenge and made some absolutley amazing creations - beautiful flavours, colours, shapes and sizes.

I chose to make a layered panna cotta which included the following layers: vanilla panna cotta, homemade nuttella, toasted hazelnuts (chopped), chocolate panna cotta. I also made the florentine cookies and filled them with more homemade nuttella. I served these for a dinner party last night and they were incredibly well received. I also thought this dessert turned out so great - they looked beautiful and it really adds a wow factor when you unmold them for your guests! :)

There are a lot of elements to this challenge, so this post is going to be a long one... hopefully you can bear with me to make it through these recipes!
Vanilla Panna Cotta
Recipe slightly adapted from Giada De Laurentiis


  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tbsp (1 package) unflavoured gelatin
  • 3 cups whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2-3 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Pour milk into a bowl or pot and sprinkle gelatin powder over the milk in an even layer. Let stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.
  2. Pour the milk and gelatin into a medium size pan and place over medium heat on the stove. Heat until the mixture is hot, but not boiling, about 5 minutes. Whisking the mixture a few times while it heats up is a good idea!
  3. Next, add the remaining ingredients. Make sure the mixture doesn't boil, continue to heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally until honey and sugar are dissolved, about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, allow to stand for a few minutes to cool slightly. Then pour into glasses or ramekins, or whatever fun shaped dishes you have on hand.
  5. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.

Next element is homemade nuttella! I found this recipe for homemade nuttella on David Lebovitz's blog and just had to make it. It was absolutely perfect for this challenge and how great is it to be able to make nuttella from scratch?!

Homemade Nuttella

Recipe from David Lebovitz


  • 1/3 cup whole almonds
  • 1 1/3 cup whole hazelnuts
  • 1 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 7/8 cup powdered milk
  • 3 tbsp mild flavoured honey
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 5 oz milk chocolate, chopped


  1. Spread the nuts on a baking sheet, keeping the almonds and hazelnuts separate. Toast the nuts in an oven preheated to 350F, stirring a few times for about 10-15 minutes, until the hazelnuts are browned.
  2. While they are roasting, warm the milk and powdered milk in a saucepan with the honey and salt just until the mixture starts to boil. Remove from heat.
  3. Melt the chocolate together in the microwave until smooth.
  4. Use a spatulla to put the warm hazelnuts in a kitchen towel and rub them vigorously to remove as much of the skin as possible (dont' worry if you don't get all of it, just get as much as you can).
  5. In a food processor, grind the nuts together until they are as smooth as you can get them. It will probably take a good 5 minutes or so to get them pretty smooth. Add the melted chocolate and continue to process until mixed really well. Stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary.
  6. Once mixture is smooth, add the warm milk mixture and process until smooth. It might be a bit soupy here, but don't worry, it will firm up when it is refrigerated. For perfectly smooth nuttella, you can strain the mixture, but you don't have to. I didn't and it turned out fine.
  7. Transfer mixture into two jars and refrigerate. Keeps about one week.

Pipe a layer of nuttella onto the set layer of vanilla panna cotta and sprinkle with chopped toasted hazelnuts. Put that in the fridge to set up while you make the chocolate layer of panna cotta.

Chocolate Panna Cotta

Recipe adapted from Bon Apetit


  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tbsp (1 pkg) unflavoured, powdered gelatin
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Pour milk into small bowl and sprinkle evenly with gelatin. Set aside for about 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.
  2. Place a saucepan over medium heat, stir in cream, sugar and vanilla. Bring to low boil. Add chocolate and stir until melted. Whisk in gelatin milk mixture. Whisk until gelatin has dissolved.
  3. Pour very carefully over the already set vanilla, nuttella and hazelnuts. Place in refrigerator to firm up for 8 hours or overnight.
  4. To serve, dip bottoms of ramekins in hot water, run sharp knife around edges and invert onto serving dishes. Garnish with florentine cookies and more chopped toasted hazelnuts.

And lastly, make the florentine cookies:

Nestle Florentine Cookies

Recipe from the cookbook Nestle Classic Recipes


  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups quick rolled oats
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • homemade nuttella (recipe above)


  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Combine melted butter, oats, sugar, all purpose flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla and salt. Mix well. Drop by the tablespoon full onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper leaving 3 inches between cookies (they spread a lot). Flatten slightly with back of spatula.
  2. Bake in preheated oven for 6-8 minutes until cookies are golden brown. Cool completely on cookie sheet. Peel cookies off parchment paper and place face down on cooling rack in pairs. Pipe nuttella onto the bottom side of one cookie and place other cookie on top creating a sandwich cookie. Keep cool until serving to ensure nuttella stays firm.

And that is this month's Daring Bakers Challenge! How fabulous does that look?? And they tasted even better. :) Do try this recipe - its easy and you can simplify it by just making one kind of panna cotta or buying premade biscuits or nuttella to serve it with. Thanks Mallory for such a fantastic challenge and for sharing such great recipes with all of us Daring Bakers!

Happy Baking my Friends!


  1. wait, you make your own nutella?! you are my new idol :) great job w/this challenge!

  2. Loved your pannacotta and cookies. Looks gorgeous. Great job on DB challenge.

  3. Thanks you guys! It was such a fun challenge!!!

  4. I've been wanting to try my hand at homemade Nutella, and you have encouraged me! Delicious looking Panna Cotta and Florentines!

  5. Great flavor combination! These look delicious!

  6. Those look great! I picked up the stuff to make homemade nutella last week, but I haven't done it yet.

  7. That one is simply irresistible! The picture alone is already mouth-watering.

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  8. gr8 combo....looks delicious and yummy....


  9. You went all out on this challenge it looks gorgeous and you made nutella also that is brilliant. I love it and the plating is superb and wonderful to hear that the dish went down so well with your dinner party guests.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  10. I am so impressed you took it upon yourself to make your own nutella too! For me it was a perfect challenge, because I am quite the novice when it comes to desserts and baking! Yours looks delicious and I am loving the nutella.

  11. Thank you all so much! Homemade nuttella turned out to be so easy with a large wow factor. I will definitely make it again, although not too soon because I think I ate my share of calories this weekend... and then some!!!

  12. Delicious looking panna cotta, and the homemade nutella is to die for! Great job:)

  13. Love that you made your own nutella. I tried to make a white nutella, and it was an oily disaster..wasted a pound of hazelnuts and white chocolate lol

    That said, your panna cotta and cookies look divine! Fantastic job!!

  14. Thanks guys!

    Lisa - sorry to hear about your nuttella experience. I bet white chocolate nuttella would be delicious though... hmmm maybe my next project!!

  15. Great post. I love that you made nutella. Thanks for stopping by
    Best- Sandie

  16. I was just thinking I needed to use nutella in something and you top that by making your own. That gives me something new to try someday. Everything looks fabulous.

  17. Home made nutella? Ooh, oooh, oooh!! What a great varation on the challenge. I cannot go past the home made nutella bit though :)