Panna Cotta played on repeat during my Philly restaurant days. Easy enough to make yet somewhat needy, the delicate gelatin-based custard was flecked with vanilla beans and lemon zest. Individual portions required transfer from ramekins to ginormous dessert plates where they were splashed with fruit sauce á la Jackson Pollock. It was the un-molding that was always dicey, requiring a warm, (but not too warm), kitchen towel, an offset spatula, and a little luck. Ok- more than a little.
My panna cotta recipe calls for 2.5" x 9" sheets of gelatin, vast quantities of heavy cream and yields way too many servings for a home kitchen. There are many variations on the cold Italian custard which simply translated means "cooked cream," and it lends itself much like a blank canvas to fresh berries, fruit compotes, drizzles of caramel, or liqueur. Since it requires only a brief simmer on the stovetop, panna cotta is the perfect warm weather dessert. Just make sure you allow a minimum of three hours for it to set up, preferably more, so when you un-mold it (if you choose to go that route) the custard will stand on its own with just enough jiggle.
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