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Monday, February 28, 2011

Coconut Panna Cotta & Key Lime Gelee

This month’s Daring Bakers consisted of two recipes that I had never made before. In fact, these recipes had never dawned on me before. I’m not a huge fan of chilled desserts. I like my desserts warm from the oven, topped with ice cream. You will rarely find puddings, gelatins or flans in my fridge. Two factors of this particular challenge seemed serendipitous. First, I’ve been working with a lot of gelatin in the past few weeks. I had just stocked up on Knox gelatin before our February challenge arrived. Second, I actually had panna cotta, for the first time in my life, on January 28th.

Boyfriend and I were in New York City four weeks ago apartment hunting. After a long and fruitless day of looking at either mediocre apartments or overpriced ones, we headed to the Meatpacking district for dinner. It was the beginning of restaurant week and we decided to try Ajna Bar on Little 12th Street. The most recent snowfall had made crossing intersections (in cute shoes nonetheless) very, very difficult. Also, if you are familiar with this particular section of Manhattan, you know the streets are cobbled. Cobbled streets, covered in several inches of slush, are a cute shoe-wearing girls nightmare. Boyfriend also refused to carry me across the street. Bad boyfriend.

We made it to Anja bar and were greeted with a burst of warm air and dark corridor. Once we were seated we had to take a minute to absorb all of the things going on around us. The restaurant is huge, with an equally large wait staff. There are huge columns, carved into dragons, candles galore and what I’m pretty sure was an aquarium filled with jellyfish. All the crazy décor aside, the meal was actually pretty delicious. (I’d highly recommend their shrimp curry.) The perfect ending to the meal was their Thai tea panna cotta. Smooth and creamy panna cotta buried beneath a layer of cool whipped cream and chocolate crunch.  Perfect.

For my panna cotta, I decided to go a little more south, and less east, for my influence. Key lime is one of my favorite flavors and with this being the season of citrus I was able to get some good ones! Just don’t skimp on the fat in this panna cotta recipe. If you go with lite coconut milk you will likely wind up with a panna cotta that won’t set. Give this a try and enjoy a little summer on a plate.

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 Nestlé Florentine Cookies.  Since Giadas recipe called for honey, and I hate honey, I went in another direction.  The florentine cookies weren't anything to write home about, so I omitted the recipe.  You can find it on the Nestle website.

Key Lime Gelee

1 tsp gelatin
¼ cup sugar
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp cold water
¼ cup key lime juice

Mix gelatin and water, allow to sit for 3 minutes. Combine sugar and 2 tbsp water in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 30 seconds, stir. If sugar is not completely dissolved heat for another 30 seconds. Continue heating and stirring until completely dissolved.

Whisk gelatin and juice into sugar syrup. Pour into ramekins. Place in the fridge for at least an hour to set.

Coconut Panna Cotta

2 envelopes gelatin
6 tbsp water
14 oz coconut milk
12 liquid oz heavy cream
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Sprinkle gelatin over water, stir to mix. Set aside until cream is ready.

Combine coconut milk, heavy cream, sugar and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium until the mixture reaches 110 F. Remove pan from the heat and add gelatin, whisk together.

Slowly pour into ramekins, being sure not to disturb the gelee. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to set overnight.

To serve, run a knife around the edge of the ramekin. Gently ease the panna cotta out of the ramekin and onto a plate.
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