Panna Cotta is more than cooked cream
This creamy, custardy pudding—the name literally means “cooked cream” in Italian—is rarely served in restaurants, but it so easy and flavorful, we should start a petition.
The luscious, perfectly creamy pudding is most often drizzled with a sweet berry coulis or sauce and garnished with fruit and mint leaves.
Strawberry Coulis Layer
Place water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Stir well, and set aside to soften for 10 minutes.
In a small saucepan, combine the cream, milk, sugar and vanilla extract or split vanilla bean, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat, and whisk in the softened gelatin. If using a vanilla bean, scrape the seeds from the bean pod into the mixture, and discard the pod.
Set saucepan with the mixture into a larger bowl filled halfway with ice; whisk until mixture is lukewarm.
Pour the mixture into glasses (in this case, served at an angle* in clear glasses), leaving about 1 inch from the brim of the glasses (you will fill up this space with the strawberry coulis puree that you prepare next). *See notes on how to stand glasses on an angle.
For The Strawberry Coulis Puree:
Puree the strawberries with either a hand-held blender or a food processor until smooth. Press the pureed strawberries through a mesh strainer to separate the seeds. Pour the strained strawberry juice into a glass measuring cup.
In 3/4 cup water, sprinkle the gelatin on top and stir well. Set aside for 10 minutes to allow the gelatin to thicken.
Heat the gelatin/water mixture in a microwave or on a stovetop, but do NOT boil it.
Stir well and then add to the strawberry puree. Add the sugar. Stir well again and allow it to cool.
This version is served in clear glasses tilted diagonally on their sides. Pour the vanilla cream into each tilted glass, leaving about 1 full inch from the brim of the glass. Chill for 4 hours or more. When the creamy pudding layer is a little firm, keep the glasses at the same angle and slowly pour the strawberry coulis on top. Once again, place the glasses of vanilla cream and strawberry coulis in the fridge overnight. Garnish with berries and sprigs of mint.
Use a muffin pan to stand the glasses on an angle with a paper towel in each muffin slot to steady the glasses.