Daring Bakers – Panna Cotta and Florentine Cookies

This is my first time doing Daring Bakers, and it definitely was out of my comfort zone! I had generally overlooked panna cotta as something I wouldn’t really be that interested in. I was completely wrong. We were encouraged to play with flavor combinations, so I layered Bailey’s panna cotta, coffee gelee, and chocolate panna cotta with delicious results.

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In addition to the panna cotta, we made Florentine cookies. These were not my favorite cookies on their own, but combined with the panna cotta they were quite delicious.

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A word of warning: even with using unsweetened chocolate, the chocolate layer in the panna cotta was almost unbearably rich. This may be remedied by cutting back the sugar or chocolate content, but at this point I would probably just look for another recipe. I’ll let you know if I find one that I like. If you choose to use this chocolate panna cotta recipe, try to keep the portions small.

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We had friends over to help us taste test (this made a lot of panna cotta, so four of us only ended up eating half of it). The consensus was that the chocolate was really rich, the Bailey’s panna cotta was good, and the coffee gelee was actually the star of the evening. Put together, the flavors worked very well.

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Double Chocolate Waffles (Happy Valentine’s Day!)

I have a confession: I love frozen waffles. They are so convenient to pop in the toaster oven and have ready for breakfast in just a few minutes. I tend to be picky about the waffles I get at restaurants, because they’re usually doused in powdered sugar and whipped cream. Not that powdered sugar and whipped cream are bad, just sometimes I want a simpler approach. Until recently, I didn’t have a waffle iron, so frozen waffles were my only choice.

Now, I may never go back.

These chocolate-chocolate chip waffles are quite rich, and if I were going to have them for an everyday breakfast, I would probably eliminate the chocolate chips. But it’s Valentine’s day; what better day to give yourself the gift of rich, chocolaty goodness? Oh, and did I mention they were easy to make?

I highly recommend these waffles topped with fruit. We tried them with cherry pie filling left over from mini cheesecake topping (pictured above) and fresh blackberries, both of which were delicious. The Official Taste Tester liked them with pure maple syrup, but I didn’t find the syrup to be necessary.

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Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Warning: this bread is incredibly addictive. My husband and I had it every morning for breakfast… and then I had to make more as soon as it ran out. We went through three loaves in a much shorter time period than I care to admit.

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I have been looking for a while for a really good cinnamon raisin bread recipe. I usually found recipes for enriched bread with a raisin and cinnamon swirl, which, while delicious, were never “cinnamony” enough for me. About a year ago, however, my in-laws gave me Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. I like that Reinhart explains the science behind the bread baking, and I have used the book extensively.

This bread is chock full of raisins, cinnamon, and sugar. It is perfect toasted or not, with a generous smear of butter.

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