Easy Italian Panna Cotta
Per 4-oz. serving
1⁄4 cup warm water
1 envelope unflavored vegetarian gelatin, such as agar
11⁄2 cups heavy cream
1⁄4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3⁄4 cup milk
Pour the warm water into a small bowl. Pour the gelatin over the water and let it stand 5 minutes to soften.
In a medium-sized saucepan, bring the cream, sugar, and vanilla extract to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2–3 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure all the sugar is dissolved. Add the milk and simmer for another 2–3 minutes.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the softened gelatin (check to make sure the cream and milk mixture is not boiling when you add the gelatin). Stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
Pour the mixture into a bowl. Set the bowl inside another bowl filled with ice water. Cool for 15 minutes, stirring regularly. Pour the liquid into 4-ounce ramekins or custard cups and refrigerate overnight.
To serve, dip the bottom of each ramekin briefly in a bowl of hot water, and use a knife to cut around the bottom of the panna cotta, loosening the edges. Dry the bottom of the ramekin and invert the panna cotta onto a plate. Enjoy as is, or top with seasonal fresh fruit.
Perfect Panna Cotta
Reputed to have originated in the Piedmont district of northern Italy, panna cotta is Italian for “cooked cream.” Traditionally, panna cotta is made with a vanilla bean, but vanilla extract makes a convenient substitute. If you want to use a vanilla bean instead, cut the bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Add both the bean and the seeds in the saucepan with the heavy whipping cream, stirring to make sure the seeds are evenly distributed.