Panna cotta (cooked cream) is a lovely, cooling Italian dessert that shares many of the delights of ice cream and much of the charm of whipped cream. This Instructable demonstrates how to make panna cotta and a balsamic/raisin topping that brings out the flavor in fresh strawberries, which are served on the side. The rich flavor of the balsamic vinegar reduction complements strawberries and its acid tones down the dessert's sweetness and the dense mouth-feel of the cream. Following a good meal with great company, it's an excellent way to end a happy day's dining. 

Panna cotta is a custard, but while many custards thicken around the egg protein albumen, this one thickens around the gelatin protein collagen. Like other gelatin containing desserts, it should be prepared several (at least 4) hours ahead of time so that it can fully thicken.

Ingredients-- the panna cotta itself

3 cups heavy cream
1 cup half and half
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin (measure from contents of 1 packet)
1/4 cup cold water
a pinch of salt (about 1/3 of a 1/8 teaspoon measure, if you desperately need to be told a specific amount)

Ingredients-- balsamic reduction topping

1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons raisins
1 cup boiling water
+ fresh strawberries 

Step 1: Start making the cooked cream

Lightly oil 8 ramekins with a neutral oil (for instance, vegetable oil. Don't use something that will bring flavors you don't want in a dessert!)

Measure 1/4 cup of water into a broad bowl (I used a cereal bowl, see picture) then sprinkle gelatin on its surface and let sit.

In a large sturdy pan, mix cream, half and half, salt, and sugar. Stirring, bring to a simmer over moderate heat.
I love that it's easy but looks elegant. I want to try this.
Interesting, like cream based jello, er kinda. Have to try this one day
It's easy, too! <br>

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Bio: My mid-April 2013 resolution was to start posting instructables. Let's see how I do with that!
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