No Bake | Buttermilk Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries … lighter & gluten free | dessert for someone you l♥v

“If music be the food of love, play on.”

 Buttermilk Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Balsamic StrawberriesButtermilk Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries … dessert for someone you l♥v, or dessert for someone who loves dessert! Panna cotta, or cooked cream, is one of the quickest Italian desserts you can make. Minimum fuss, quick to make, do ahead and divinely delicious, a winner every single time.

Buttermilk Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries The tempting option of going a teeny bit healthy on a cream dessert, yet keeping it indulgent, is perhaps worth the bait! I’ve done a Berries & Buttermilk Puddng in the past, so the idea of a buttermilk panna cotta was going to be worth every delicious spoonful! Buttermilk Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries 5 Buttermilk Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries Delightful tangy undertones, a gentle wobbly set cream, smooth vanilla overtures…what more can you ask for? Pretty darned good as it is, you can take it a step higher with luscious red strawberries as topping. Use any seasonal berries for that matter, or fruit like figs too. A salted butter caramel sauce would be really nice as well.

strawberriesIf you have the time, gently simmer strawberries to make a balsamic strawberry topping. And if time is not your friend that day, simply macerate the berries in castor sugar and a dash of lime juice, or maybe just toss them in honey. It adds a nice sweet touch to the fruit while making it shiny and attractive to top the panna cotta.

Buttermilk Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries The colour contrast weaves a magic spell. What’s not to love about red and white? And what’s not to love about strawberries and cream. AND what’s not to love about make ahead, fuss free dessert? Go on, take the plunge! Spoil those you love on V Day with this gorgeous Buttermilk Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries.

Buttermilk Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries Oh yes, and make sure you get them to do the dishes! Share some love!!

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Baking| Strawberry-Tangerine Quark Panna Cotta with Oatmeal Florentines … Daring Bakers

‘The most indispensable ingredient of all good home cooking: love, for those you are cooking for.”
Sophia Loren

Strawberry & Tangerine Quark Panna Cotta with Oatmeal FlorentinesIt’s the 27th, the Daring Bakers time of the month. Really geared up from last months Entermet and imprime experience, the first look at February’s challenge posted had me a little disheartened even though the panna cotta is on top of my list of favourite desserts. After a rejuvenating and very challenging beginning to the year, I warmed up to the idea of a creamy panna cotta pretty soon.

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.
Strawberry & Tangerine Quark Panna Cotta with Oatmeal Florentines

Like every challenge, this one was soon beginning to tempt me into the kitchen. I have to declare my love for panna cotta. I think it’s the most luxuriant and indulgent dessert ever, yet one that comes laden with guilty calories. The calories are the only thing that keep me from making this often, so in many ways I was secretly happy to see the challenge. Dark chocolate espresso panna cottaFate had me make a Dark Chocolate Espresso Panna Cotta last week too…LOL!! As Mallory promised, this was certainly turning out to be a Creamy Dreamy Crunchy Sweet February, the month of love!

Strawberry & Tangerine Quark Panna Cotta The luxury of a creamy panna cotta, a challenge that wasn’t breathing fire down your throat, made  me want to try something new at  my own pace, which is what I did. Even though I bought cream {read lots of it } I thought quark panna cotta, made with quark, a soft curd cheese I have come to love.Strawberry & Tangerine Quark Panna Cotta with Oatmeal FlorentinesGoogling for recipe proportions led me to one that my lovely friend Meeta had done ages ago. My recipe is based roughly on hers. Mine was definitely going to have a fruit pairing because I find that the slight tanginess of quark is complimented beautifully by seasonal fruit.  Planned a strawberry quark panna cotta with a chocolate gelee, but once the pots and pans were out, other thoughts came to my mind. I saw tangerines on my little shrub, and decided to go with a 2 toned panna cotta. Bye bye chocolate, hello tangerine. Orange you glad I chose you?Strawberry & Tangerine Quark Panna Cotta Home made quark is the best thing that happened to me a couple of years ago while doing a featured post for Foodbuzz. I whizzed the quark, strawberries and sugar to a smooth puree; yummy enough to eat at this stage itself. Using 2 flavours meant an overnight wait for one later to set first. For the second layer, I went the citrus way using some  bitter tangerine marmalade I had recently made. Fingers crossed, into the fridge it went. Quark and fruit are a rocking good combination.Strawberry & Tangerine Quark Panna Cotta with Oatmeal FlorentinesThe Oatmeal Florentines should have been  a cakewalk, but I missed reading the flour in there. I made half  the recipe. The minute the first tray was into the oven and bubbling like lava, I knew something was wrong. No time to recheck, so I just stirred in some more oats and made the second tray. My cookies were by default gluten free! {A check later revealed I had forgotten to add the plain flour}. These are some delicious cookies, and oh-so-addictive. No time for melted chocolate, meant good old Nutella.

Thank you Mallory for the very Creamy Dreamy Crunchy Sweet February, and thank you as always Lisa of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice for hosting this fab kitchen!! Do stop by HERE and check the dreams’ that our other daring folk have stirred up around the globe.

Strawberry & Tangerine Quark Panna CottaStrawberry Vanilla Quark Panna Cotta
200 ml low fat cream
150g quark
200gms strawberries
3 sheets gelatin
1 vanilla bean, scraped and pod reserved
Soak the gelatin sheets in cold water for 5 minutes.
Blend the quark with strawberries and sugar until smooth. Reserve.
Simmer cream and vanilla bean for 5 minutes. Squeeze out the water from  the gelatin sheets and stir into the simmering cream until mixed  through {do not allow to boil}. Remove from heat.
Fold in 2tbsps  of quark mixture into cream, and then mix the entire cream into the  quark until uniform. Divide into 6 serving glasses. Allow to set for 4-6 hours {more if the weather is hot .I tend to use more gelatin in warmer weather.}
Quark Tangerine Vanilla Panna Cotta
200ml low fat cream
1 vanilla bean scraped
zest of 1 orange
2 sheets of gelatin
75gms quark
1/2 cup bitter orange marmalade
Soak the gelatin sheets in cold water for 5 minutes while you simmer the cream.
Simmer cream, orange zest and vanilla bean for 5 minutes. Squeeze out  the water from the gelatin sheets and stir into the simmering cream  until mixed through. Remove from heat.
Blend the quark with tangerine marmalade until smooth. {Adjust sugar if  required. It will get less sweet once you add the cream to this}
Fold in 2tbsps of quark mixture into cream, and then mix the entire  cream into the quark until uniform. Stir constantly to cool as it will  melt the previously set panna cotta if it is too hot.
Ladle/pour gently into the serving glasses on top of the already set  quark strawberry panna cotta. Leave to set for another 4-6 hours,  preferably overnight.
Strawberry & Tangerine Quark Panna CottaStrawberry/ Tangerine Gelee
100gms strawberries
1 tbsp vanilla sugar
2 tbsp bitter orange marmalade
Simmer the ingredients until soft and gelly like. Pass  through a sieve, pushing the fruit through to get a clear puree. Cool and ladle on top of the panna cotta.
Candied Tangerines
2-3 tangerines, sliced fine
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp water
Place all ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil. then gently simmer  till the slices become translucent. Remove gently to a parchment paper {reserve the syrup for a lemonade etc}, and bake in low {100C} over for about an hour or two, turning once or twice, until they appear translucent.

Oatmeal FlorentinesNestle Florentine Cookies
Adapted from recipe from the cookbookNestle Classic Recipes
2/3 cup  unsalted butter
2 3/4 cups quick oats
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
½ cups Nutella
Preheat oven to 190°C. Prepare your baking sheet with parchment paper.
Melt butter in a medium saucepan, then remove from the heat.
To the melted butter add oats, sugar, flour, corn syrup, milk,  vanilla, and salt. Mix well. Drop a tablespoon full, three inches onto your prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly with the  back of your tablespoon, or use a spatula.
Bake in preheated oven for 6-8 minutes, until cookies are golden brown. Cool completely on the baking sheets.
Peel the cookies from the parchment and place face down on  a wire rack set.
Spread a tablespoon of Nutella on the bottom/flat side of your  cookie, sandwiching another cookie atop the chocolate.
This recipe will make about 2 1/2 – 3 dozen sandwiched Florentine  cookies.{I made half recipe}

Strawberry & Tangerine Quark Panna Cotta with Oatmeal Florentines

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Baking| Strawberry & Whipped Lemon Curd Napoleans … ♥Happy V Day♥

“Gastronomy is and always has been connected with its sister…
…art of love.”

M.F.K. Fisher

Strawberry & Whipped Lemon Curd Napoleans14th morning is always an action replay of the days gone by. He will come and announce {without fail} that we first met on the 13th of Feb many years ago. 21 years!! Can’t believe it’s been that long. Mr PAB has a memory that astounds me,  and in many ways is my personal journal – birthdays, anniversaries, who died when etc, each day with marked by an event significant to the time elapsed. He offers me time-lines whether I want it or not, often a balm to my cluttered mind. I do the more mundane practical stuff –  insurances, bank work, bills, payday for Man Friday, the gardener etc!Strawberry & Whipped Lemon Curd NapoleansRed is the colour of passion or so they say. IMHO, V Day is much over-hyped and a commercial oversell for new lovers! Me? Give me the vibrant colours of nature and I’m inspired. Roasted red bell pepper sauce, a fiery yet sweet Sriracha {finally made it and it’s yum!}, strawberries … all colour my world. {Daughters red painting too!}redI am far from a mushy V Day person, yet there’s something magnetic about all the red one sees around this time of the year. It tends to get to me, making me obsess about a Valentine Day special, for PAB though. Blogs are resplendent with sweetheart desserts, one more charming than the other,  often more amazing than any you’ve ever seen, and they egg me on to post some love on V Day too.Strawberry & Whipped Lemon Curd NapoleansI fell for the trap of this love filled or rather love-fueled day. More red & more lv after the heart shaped Strawberry Meringue Chocolate Layer Cake. The bazaar is still flooded with the most gorgeous red strawberries, the second annual wave in India every year. The fruit & veggie vendor, or fruitwala, is a persuasive fellow, charming me with the shiny red berry. Knocks off a fraction of the price. ‘Specially for you,‘ he says. In my heart I know he says this to many regulars, but I get talked into it and come back in a gleeful mood.Strawberry & Whipped Lemon Curd NapoleansWhat shall I make is the eternal question? Waffles are really on top of my list since I saw El’s gorgeous Belgian Waffles post, but after a headless chicken dance on soccer Saturday, a Sunday morning waffle exercise falls flat. By the time we get our act together, it’s almost time for lunch. The teen has been up doing art work since 5am and at 8am decides its time for nap number 2. Wild horses can’t drag the dieting diva out of bed … so dessert it has to be!Strawberry & Whipped Lemon Curd NapoleansRough puff pastry in the freezer is a bad thing, possibly worse than I ever thought it would be. Do you think so too? It has hypnotizing powers and is the easiest thing to have in the freezer. Did me in for World Nutella Day when I made Nutella Strawberry Puff Pastry Hearts. It threw me a line of temptation yesterday too. Quick check of the fridge revealed low fat cream, home made easy lemon curd, strawberries and of course rough puff pastry! Time for mille fueille, the classic French dessert which holds endless charm, and one I’ve never baked before. Strawberry & Whipped Lemon Curd NapoleansIf you have puff pastry on hand, this is an indulgent dessert on fast track. I used whipped lemon curd cream instead of pastry cream, the latter I think is quintessential to the classic version. Also cut out a few hearts on top to go with the V Day theme, gave the tops a brushing of egg yolk, and sprinkled some vanilla sugar on top {which you can see got caramelised}. I suppose regular puff pastry would yield a more layered Napoleon vis-a-vis rough puff pastry, but the later is simpler to make at home and is fine with me.Strawberry & Whipped Lemon Curd Napoleans

The Napoleon is a pastry made of many layers of puff pastry with filling alternating the layers. It can be eaten as a dessert, or even as a decadent meal. As a French pastry it is called mille-feuilles, or thousand leaves, and it is usually filled with whipped cream, pastry cream, and fruit preserves – most often raspberry jam. The topping may be simply powdered sugar, or a layer of fondant, often with strings of chocolate drawn into a chevron design. In Italy, where the pastry is thought to have originated in Naples, it is called mille foglie (again, thousand leaves), and contains a similar layering like the mille-feuilles of cream, pastry cream, and fruit preserves. A traditional napoleon is filled with plain pastry cream but if desired you may add a thin layer of fruit preserves such as seedless raspberry or strawberry jam or preserves to the filling.

Strawberry & Whipped Lemon Curd NapoleansStrawberry & Whipped Lemon Curd Napoleans
200ml low fat cream
200gms strawberries, sliced
1 egg yolk lightly whisked with a fork for glaze

Vanilla sugar for sprinkling {optional}

Roll out the puff pastry to a 1/4″ height, trim the edges, and cut into 9 equal rectangles. Cut out hearts in 3 of them if you like, and place rectangles and cut out hearts on a baking tray.
Place tray in the freezer while you preheat the oven to 225C.
Brush the pastry with the glaze, sprinkle with vanilla sugar if using, and bake for 20-25 minutes till puffy and golden.
Cool on racks, and then carefully split each horizontally into 2 with a sharp knife. or the tines of a fork. {You can get 3 layers if you use regular and not rough puff pastry}
Whip the cream to medium peak, and then gently but thoroughly fold in the lemon curd. The cream should thicken quite well now. {You won’t need to add sugar as the lemon curd is quite sweet on it’s own.}
Reserve the heart cut out layers for the pastry tops. {I used the tops and bottoms to give me ♥ cut out tops}
Spread about 1 1/2 tbsp of the whipped lemon curd cream on the bottom layer, and layer with strawberry slices. Top with a middle layer of pastry. Repeat and finally top with remaining pastry layers. Garnish with sliced strawberries if you like. Chill up to 1 hour.Strawberry & Whipped Lemon Curd Napoleans

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