Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta
adapted from David Lebovitz
2 C half and half
1/4 C sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 package gelatin
3 Tbsp cold water
Lightly oil 3 small bowls.
Heat half and half, sugar, and vanilla bean caviar and bean in a pot and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 30 minutes to let the vanilla infuse.
In a medium bowl, dissolve the gelatin over the cold water. Let stand for about 10 minutes. Pour the warm half and half mixture through a strainer (to catch the bean and any filmed milk) over the gelatin and stir until completely dissolved.
Divide between the 3 bowls. Chill until firm - at least 2 hours, but can be made up to a day or two in advance.
To serve, you can either serve it in bowl, or you can run a knife along the edges, dip the bowl in some hot water to loosen, and turn out onto serving plate. Finish it with topping of choice, such as...Balsamic Strawberries
adapted from Allrecipes.com
1 pint strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced in half
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 C white sugar
Put strawberries in a bowl and drizzle with the balsamic and sugar. Stir gently to combine. Cover and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour. Spoon over or around panna cotta.
This would also go really well with vanilla ice cream or topped with whipped cream. I should also note that the red and white color combo makes this perfect for a valentines day dessert (especially if using a heart mold) or Christmas... or throw in some blueberries and you have a nice patriotic looking dessert, too.