Panna Cotta + Coconut Bars = Yes

I'm a modern, working woman and sometimes I just don't have a flexible enough work schedule to allow for me to come home every night and slave away over my jello molds to come up with new jello recipes for you fine folks. So sometimes, I take a shortcut and go with the simplest recipe I can find. Last week's Friday Dinner was one such occasion. I had already made a non-gelatin-related dessert the evening before - a coconut bar recipe from Gourmet Magazine (may it rest it in peace) that I've been meaning to try for forever - but needed something to go with it. I decided to go with a simple panna cotta because the weather had just recently turned and it finally felt like fall (and we all know that fall calls for heavy cream).

I portioned out small, single servings in ramekins and topped them with a bite of coconut bar. The creamy panna cotta went really well with the crunchy and chewy coconut bars but in all honesty, the bars stole the show - let's just say I had NO leftovers. So because they were SO good, I've included both the simple panna cotta recipe and the coconut bar recipe for your enjoyment below.

Ingredients:

2 cups of heavy cream (or half & half)

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 envelope Knox unflavored gelatin

3 tablespoons cold water

This is super easy, ready? Let the gelatin soak in the water while you heat the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla in a saucepan until almost boiling. Then, remove the cream from the heat and stir in the gelatin until fully dissolved. Pour into your serving dishes and refrigerate until firm (at least a few hours or overnight). You can then unmold before serving or just buy cute dishes and serve the panna cotta in them. Done!

The coconut bars are also super simple and the recipe is from 1953 and way old school:

Cream 1/2 cup of butter. Add gradually 1/2 cup brown sugar and beat until smooth. Stir in 1 cup sifted flour and spread batter in the bottom of a 8 inch square cake pan. Bake in a moderate oven (375) for 20 minutes.

Beat 2 eggs and 1 cup light brown sugar until smooth. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 cup chopped walnuts, and 1/2 cup shredded coconut tossed with 2 tablespoons of flour and a pinch of salt. Spread this batter over the baked crust and continue to bake for 20 minutes longer. Cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into squares or bars.

Happy Molding!