I was reading an article today that talked about how within just 6 days the Japanese repaired a section of the Great Kanto Highway that had been badly damaged by the earthquake. The article further goes on to state that many workers returned to their jobs only a day after the earthquake and subsequent tsunami and some businesses in the worst-hit regions have already reopened.
My prayers go out for the people of Japan who have suffered such grave loss, and hearing such stories of the Japanese determination just strengthens my belief that if any one nation has the power to rise again after such a tragedy- it is Japan. It emerged triumphant from the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and even now they will rise again. No wonder they are called the land of the rising sun!
Its such a simple lesson that one can take from the Japanese tragedy and the fortitude of the Japanese people- one could either resign and sit after such a disaster and accept it as nature’s will or one can stand up and be determined to get back on his/her feet.
Not that my tragedies in the kitchen are even remotely related to what Japan has gone through and is still going through, but the lesson learnt is to never give up and some wrongs can be made into a right if you have the will and determination along with some creativity.
I have joined the Daring Baker’s gang and February would have been my first DB challenge. But I failed in completing it as my first attempt was a failure and I was busy travelling after that to give it another shot. The challenge was to make Panna cotta and florentine cookies. My first attempt at Panna cotta was a big flop. It would not have been such a flop had I not used silicon muffin moulds for setting the Panna cotta. I am assuming so because the ones I left to set in the ramekins turned out fine. But out of the 13 servings I had, I put only four to set in the ramekins. Since I these were to be served for a party of 8 I knew I had to think of another way to serve them or make a completely different dessert. So instead I set out to make a chocolate Zucchini cake. Now, that is another story!
For the Zucchini cake- my parents bought a new oven and it was the first time I was baking a cake in it. I was scared- I had made buns earlier in it and they browned too quickly from the bottom and not from the top. So I knew the oven did not have even heating and I would have to keep a constant watch. If technical issues were not enough, human error on my part made sure that a disaster was on its way. I decided to use an angel cake pan for the batter. I knew that I would need another pan so I greased a small loaf pan too. But, I don’t know why, when I started pouring the batter I thought I should be good with only the bundt pan. I should have known better to not overfill. There was a voice that did tell me to pour the batter in the other pan as well (and it was right there- all greased up), but I was left with only a ladleful (or so I thought) and thought I should be able to manage with one pan. And in spite of my better judgement I filled it to the top. I knew it then and there I made a mistake.
And then it happened. Like lava the cake batter started overflowing from the pan and touching the sheet pan I had put underneath the rack. And my heart sank. It overflew and dropped on the pan and started burning since the sheet pan was on the lower most shelf and the house smelt of burnt cake, even though on the middle rack the cake was still baking. There was smoke all over and once the batter stopped falling from the pan, I removed the sheet pan and removed the burnt cake batter. The cake, once baked, was in no shape to serve as is, though it tasted really good.
The party was the same night and I had two failed desserts, albeit tasty! I did have the crumbs from the cake and a smooth, partially set panna cotta. I decided to make parfait like desserts with the two disasters. And boy, were they a hit. The creaminess from the panna cotta combined with the moist, chocolatey cake made a perfect dessert! (Of course, individually too they make fabulous eats!)
PANNA COTTA & CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI CAKE CRUMB PARFAIT
(Makes about 12)
For the Panna Cotta
- 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 tsp vanilla essence
- 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.
- 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).
- Next, add the cream, vanilla, 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.
- Remove from heat, allow it to sit for a few minutes to cool slightly. Then pour into the glass or ramekin.
- Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.
For the Chocolate Zucchini Cake see here
To make the Parfaits:
- Take parfait glasses. Put a layer of the cake crumbs such that they cover the bottom and slide up to one side of the glass only.
- Unmould the panna cotta into the glass. (Make sure a part of the cake crumbs are visible on the top- as seen in the picture)
- Sprinkle a few cake crumbs on top.
- Add chocolate shavings and some sprinkles. Refrigerate till ready to serve.