Panna Cotta with Berries and Anise Brittle
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons powdered unflavored gelatin
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped away, or ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups very cold heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- ¼ cup fennel seeds
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- Fresh seasonal berries, for serving
- Put ¼ cup cold water in a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over it and let it soak for 5 minutes, or until softened.
- Combine the milk, sugar, and vanilla bean halves in a large saucepan.
- Stir over medium-high heat until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to a gentle boil.
- Remove from the heat and let cool for 2 minutes.
- Stir in the gelatin mixture until dissolved.
- Stir in the cream and remove the pieces of vanilla bean.
- Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until the mixture begins to thicken.
- Pour ½ cup of the mixture into each of eight 6-ounce ramekins or glasses.
- Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until set (if you plan to refrigerate overnight, cover each with plastic wrap).
- Line a baking sheet with foil and rub with the butter.
- Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons of water in a small, heavy saucepan.
- Heat over medium-high heat, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Then, bring to a boil and simmer until the bubbles begin to break much more slowly (Note: Molten sugar is extremely hot; handle it with care.
- Shortly after that, the mixture will start to brown. Caramelize it to a light amber color- not dark brown.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the fennel seeds and baking soda (the mixture will bubble up slowly and expand like a science experiment).
- Scoop it out onto the buttered foil with a spatula and spread thinly; it will continue bubbling for a few seconds.
- Cool completely, then chop the hard brittle into small, rough pieces.
- To serve, top each panna cotta with a few berries and scatter with the chopped brittle.