One misconception about panna cotta is that it must always be served turned-out, standing on its own like a flan. That to me presents a fundamental problem, which is to say, too much gelatin. My personal feeling is that panna cotta needn’t be terribly firm, just enough to give it a silky and elegant mouthfeel. Much more than that and we get into true “gelatin dessert” territory, where I’d rather not be. This panna cotta can be turned out by either running a sharp knife around the rim of the cup or dipping it briefly in hot water, but don’t expect the presentation to be perfectly geometric.
2 1/3 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
Seeds of 1 vanilla bean
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
2 cups buttermilk
Combine the cream, sugar and vanilla seeds in a sauce pan and whisk to combine. Heat the mixture gently, bringing it up to the boiling point. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Then, while whisking gently, sprinkle in the powdered gelatin and stir until it dissolves. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Add the buttermilk and stir until smooth. Pour into ramekins, cups or glasses and chill for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight.