Bourbon Vanilla Panna Cotta

Bourbon Vanilla Panna Cotta

On a weekend getaway to Santa Barbara, we had the most exquisite panna cotta from a tiny little Italian restaurant.  We’ve been hooked ever since…

It was the quintessential California weather in January as we drove up the coast to Santa Barbara.  Perfectly sunny without a single cloud in the sky.  We couldn’t ask for a more beautiful weather for our tour through the wine country.  Memories of grapevines nestled in the valleys of rolling hills and quaint vineyards with dimly lit tasting rooms still haunt us today.  And let’s not forget about the unassuming Italian restaurant which left a lingering memory of their oh so decadent panna cotta.
It took many, many attempts to fine tune this recipe (partly because I always forget to jot down my portions) and I can guarantee he had zero problems being my guinea pig.  Alas, we have finally reached our perfect balance.

1/2 qt. heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 Madagascar bourbon vanilla bean
1 1/2 Tbsp powdered unflavored gelatin
3 Tbsp water
fresh seasonal berries
  1. In a small saucepan, simmer heavy cream and sugar over medium heat.  Meanwhile, split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the pulp into the cream mixture.  Add the vanilla pod for added flavor.
  2. Put water in a small container and gradually sprinkle the powdered gelatin to the top layer of the liquid.  Do this until the gelatin has been absorbed into the mixture.  Now add the gelatin mixture to the simmering cream.  Remove from heat and stir.
  3. Remove the vanilla bean pod and distribute the mixture evenly into four small glasses or ramekins.  Cool to room temperature then refrigerate overnight or for at least 6 hours.  Serve chilled and garnish with fresh berries.

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