Panna cotta was one of my contributions to our "local feast" on New Year's Eve. Despite a few bad decisions on my part, I was pleased with how this recipe turned out and will definitely make it again.
So what did I do wrong? [At least] 3 things: a) I took a new recipe to a party without trying it first; b) I waited until the last minute to make it; and c) I underestimated how difficult it would be to disassemble the cold water bath by myself (there wasn't enough size difference between the two bowls I used).
This is actually a pretty simple recipe (just make sure you don't make the mistakes I did!) which would be perfect with fresh berries in the summer.
1 cup whole milk
2 1/2 tsp. unflavored gelatin
1 vanilla bean, slit lengthwise
3 cups heavy cream
6 tbsp. sugar
- Pour the milk into a medium saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over milk. Let stand 10-15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, scrape seeds from vanilla bean. Combine cream, vanilla bean, and seeds in a large measuring cup and set aside.
- Place eight 4-oz. ramekins on a baking sheet and set aside. Make a large bowl of ice water (about 4 cups water and 2 trays ice cubes).
- Heat milk and gelatin over high heat, stirring constantly, until gelatin is dissolved and the mixture registers 135 degrees (1-2 minutes). Remove from heat. Add sugar and salt, stir until dissolved (1 minute). Slowly add cream and vanilla mixture, stirring constantly.
- Transfer mixture to a medium bowl; gently place this bowl into the bowl of ice water. Allow mixture to cool, stirring frequently, until it has thickened to the consistency of eggnog and reaches 50 degrees (10-20 minutes). Strain the mixture into a pitcher, then pour into ramekins.
- Refrigerate until panna cotta is set - at least four hours but up to 5 days in advance of serving (make sure to cover well with plastic wrap).
- Serve with lightly sweetened berries or berry coulis.
- Note: I used milk and cream from Heartland Creamery.
- Adapted from The Best Make-Ahead Recipe, from Cook's Illustrated