Panna Cotta
Eight servings
Adapted from Secrets of My Tuscan Kitchen by Judy WittsI love this dessert and the great thing about Panna cotta is that it needs to be made in advance, the perfect do-ahead dessert. You can make them up to two days ahead and keep them well-covered and chilled. For gelatin-related questions, read my Tips for Using Gelatin. You can find instructions for using sheet gelatin at the end of the recipe.I’ve not used non-dairy milks, such as soy, coconut, oatmeal or nut milks, but I am sure they would work with this recipe. For alternatives to using regular gelatin, check the links at the end of the recipe. To make buttermilk Panna cotta, substitute buttermilk for a little more than half of the heavy cream that’s called for. Heat only the cream. Then, in step 4, let the mixture cool until tepid, and stir in the buttermilk.
4 cups (1l) heavy cream or half-and-half
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
4 teaspoons powdered unflavored gelatin (slightly less than 2 packets)
6 tablespoons (90ml) cold water
1. Heat the heavy cream or half-and-half and sugar in a saucepan. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
(If using a vanilla bean, scrape the seeds from the bean into the cream and add the bean pod. Cover, and let infuse for 30 minutes. Remove the bean then rewarm the mixture before continuing.)
2. Lightly oil eight custard cups (or similar vessels) with a neutral-tasting vegetable oil.
3. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a medium-sized bowl and let stand 5 to 10 minutes.
4. Pour the very warm Panna cotta mixture over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
5. Divide the Panna cotta mixture into the prepared cups, then chill them until firm, which will take at least two hours – but they may take at least four hours.
If you’re pressed for time, you can pour the Panna cotta mixture into wine goblets or drinking glasses so you can serve them in the glasses, without unmolding.
6. Run a sharp knife around the edge of each Panna cotta and unmold each onto a serving plate. If your molds have curved sides, run a small, thin-bladed flexible silicone spatula around the inside of the mold or cup to release the Panna cotta. Serve with some of the suggestions listed in the post.

To make Panna Cotta with sheet gelatin: Soften 25g (approximately six sheets) in a liter of cold water for 5 to 10 minutes. Wring the sheets out and stir them into the warm Panna Cotta mixture in step # 4, until dissolved.