Chocolate panna cotta

POSTED: 09:13 AM PDT Oct 04, 2011    UPDATED: 07:24 AM PDT Nov 01, 2012 

Makes 4 servings

This eggless custard -- called "cooked cream" in Italy -- is thickened with gelatin and flavored with chocolate. It takes less than 10 minutes to prepare, but be sure to allow at least 3 hours for the dessert to chill and set. I like to serve this rich panna cotta in pretty little dessert bowls topped with crème fraîche or fresh raspberries and chocolate curls.

1 tablespoon cold water

1 teaspoon plain gelatin

1 ½ cups heavy cream

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

3 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Pour the water into a small bowl and sprinkle with the gelatin. Let stand for 3 minutes or until softened.

Stir together the cream and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. When the liquid begins to form bubbles around the edges, stir in the gelatin mixture. Reduce the heat to low and continue stirring for 30 seconds or until the gelatin is dissolved. Add the chocolate and whisk for 1 minute or until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

Pour ½ cup of the mixture into small dessert bowls. Let cool for a few minutes, and then cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 8 hours.