Panna cotta is one of those desserts that no one seems to make anymore and we need to change that! It is really easy and really refreshing when it starts to get warm outside. One of my favorite spring fruits is strawberries; they are so delicious and versatile. This panna cotta is a play on strawberries and cream, but with a little bit of white chocolate for extra richness. I like to use both fresh strawberries and jammy sweetened berries to serve.
8 small (4-ounce) silicone molds or 4-ounce ramekins or an 8-inch round silicone mold
Arrange 8 small (4-ounce) silicone molds or 4-ounce ramekins or an 8-inch round silicone mold on a rimmed baking sheet. Make room for the baking sheet in your refrigerator.
If using gelatin sheets, soak them in a bowl of cold water for about 10 minutes. If using powdered gelatin, place 3 tablespoons of cold water in a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the surface and let sit for 5 minutes.
Put the cream, milk, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, vanilla bean and seeds in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat until simmering, about 5 minutes; do not boil.
If using soaked gelatin sheets, squeeze out the excess water. Whisk the bloomed gelatin into the cream mixture until completely dissolved, about 3 minutes. Add the white chocolate, remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk until the chocolate completely melts and the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes. Pour the mixture into the prepared silicone molds and allow to cool at room temperature, about 1 hour. Once cooled, refrigerate the panna cotta until cold and set, about 4 hours.
Put 1 pound of the strawberries, the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, the Champagne and a pinch of salt in a blender and puree until smooth. Transfer to a large nonstick skillet and bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, about 5 minutes. Reduce to medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until thick and syrupy, about 15 minutes. Add the orange zest, remove from the heat and let sit until cool, about 15 minutes. Remove and discard the zest, transfer the syrup to a medium bowl and chill until ready to serve.
When ready to serve, dip the chilled silicone molds in warm water to loosen each panna cotta and invert them onto plates. Pour the chilled strawberry syrup over the top of each panna cotta and serve with remaining quartered strawberries.
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