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Panna Cotta with Strawberries and Plums

Panna cotta ("cooked cream" in Italian) is like a baked custard without the eggs. Here, plums and strawberries dress up the dessert. You can substitute currants for the strawberries and green plums for the red ones.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Servings: 6 Serves 6.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 5 lemon zest strips, each 3 inches long
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise, or 3/4
      tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 3/4 tsp. unflavored gelatin
  • 8 plums, about 1 1/2 lb. total, pitted and thinly
      sliced
  • 1 pint strawberries, halved

Directions:

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cream, 2/3 cup of the milk, the confectioners' sugar, lemon zest and vanilla bean, if using. Bring to a simmer, stirring often. Remove from the heat, cover and set aside for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/3 cup milk and the gelatin. Set aside to soften for about 10 minutes.

Bring the cream mixture back to a simmer. Remove from the heat and whisk in the gelatin mixture until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve set over a large measuring pitcher. Stir in the vanilla extract, if using.

Pour into six 6-oz. custard cups or ramekins. Cover and refrigerate until set, about 3 hours.

To serve, run a small knife around the edge of each cup and unmold onto individual serving plates. Arrange the plum slices and strawberry halves around the molds. Serve immediately.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Outdoors Series, Beach House Cooking, by Charles Pierce (Time-Life Books, 1999).