FOR THE PANNA COTTA
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split down the middle*
2 tsp unflavored gelatin
3 Tbs water
10-12 Kaffir lime leaves **
*If you don’t have vanilla beans, you could also use 1 tsp of vanilla bean paste or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
**Kaffir lime leaves can be found at your local asian grocery, sometimes fresh, and almost always frozen. I don’t recommend dried. One “leaf” is actually two connected leaves, a larger and smaller, and when counting leaves fro the recipe, count the two leaves on one stem as one leaf.
You can either serve the panna cotta in the cup or un-mold them onto a plate for serving. Choose four small bowls or tea cups with those options in mind. I served mine in the cup, but if you plan to invert yours onto a plate, lightly brush oil on the inside edges of your vessel to make removal easier.
Next heat the half & half, cream, sugar, and vanilla bean (or extract) over medium-low heat in a small saucepan. Tear the kaffir lime leaves away from their center stem to release the aroma and drop into the cream mixture.
Cook until it starts to simmer, stirring to make sure the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from heat, covered by a lid if possible, and let sit for 30 minutes to steep.
Meanwhile, put the water in a medium sized mixing bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over it and let it sit for 10 minutes.
After the cream mixture has steeped for at least a half hour, remove the lime leaves and vanilla bean, scraping out the seeds from the vanilla and adding them back into the mixture. Reheat the cream mixture again until it is hot, then pour over the gelatin in the bowl, whisking to dissolve it.
Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve (to catch any possible clumps) and then evenly into your prepared cups. Put them all into the fridge to solidify for 2.5 to 3 hours before serving.
Once it is set, you can either just top with the brittle (see recipe below) and eat it out of the cup as is, or you can invert it by putting a plate over the cup and flipping it over to serve the panna cotta.
FOR THE BRITTLE
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbs butter
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 tsp fresh, finely grated ginger
1 tsp flaky salt
1 kefir lime leaf, slivered and finely chopped (optional)
Put the sugar in a small, heavy bottomed saucepan on medium high heat until the sugar begins to melt. Lower to medium heat and stir until the sugar is completely melted, then stop stirring and wait for the sugar to turn a caramel color, about 7 or 8 mins.
Carefully stir in the butter until it’s completely incorporated. Remove the saucepan from heat. Stir in the pine nuts as well as half of both the salt & chopped lime leaf.
Line a small sheet pan with parchment and pour out the mixture, spreading it out to a thin, even thickness with a silicone spatula. Sprinkle the rest of the salt and lime leaf on top while it’s still warm.
Allow to cool completely at room temp (about an hour) and then break the brittle up into smaller pieces. If you want a more “crumbled” topping for your panna cotta, place a few of the shards in a ziplock and smash it up!
This recipe is more than you will need for your panna cotta, but you will have no problem eating the rest.