For the Panna Cotta:
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- 2 cups creme fraiche
- 2 tablespoons plus 1/4 teaspoon powdered gelatin
For the Sauce:
- 2 pounds frozen cherries, pitted and thawed
- 1/2 cup cherry brandy (recommended: Kirsch)
- 1/3 cup ruby port
- 3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 lemon, zested, cut into strips
Place the cream, milk and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Split and scrape the vanilla seeds from the bean. Add both the seeds and the pod to the milk.
Once the milk mixture begins to simmer, shut off the heat and whisk in the creme fraiche. Strain the mixture and return to the pot. Add the gelatin and stir until dissolved.
Pour the mixture into 8 (1 cup) ramekins and set aside to come to room temperature. Cover and place in the refrigerator to firm up for at least 3 hours, but it is best to let sit overnight.
To make the sauce, combine the cherries and their juices, the cherry brandy, and the port in a medium saucepan with low sides, over medium heat. When mixture is hot, remove the pan from the heat and ignite with a long kitchen match. Once the flame subsides, return the pan to medium heat.
Add the sugar, cinnamon, and the lemon zest and stir until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture starts to thicken, about 3 more minutes. Let the mixture cool to room temperature and serve with the Panna Cotta