Panna Cotta with Apricot Sauce
For the panna cotta:
1/2 c. whole milk
1 1/2 t. unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 c. heavy cream
1 piece of vanilla bean, about 1-inch long
3 T. sugar
pinch of salt
For the apricot sauce:
1 lb. apricots, pitted and coarsely chopped (I find it unnecessary to peel apricots, the skins are very tender)
1/4 c. sugar (more or less to taste, depending on the sweetness of the apricots)
pinch of salt
1 oz. amaretto liqueur
Prepare the panna cotta: In a medium saucepan, add the milk and then sprinkle the gelatin powder over the top. Let sit for 10 minutes to rehydrate the gelatin.
While the gelatin sits, make an ice bath by filling a large bowl with about 2 cups of ice cubes and about 2 cups of cold water, set aside. Measure the cream into a liquid measuring cup or pitcher. Using a sharp knife, cut a slit lengthwise down the vanilla bean and scrape the tiny black seeds from the inside, add the seeds and the pod to the heavy cream and whisk to combine.
Heat the milk/gelatin over high heat, stirring constantly, until the gelatin is dissolved and the temperature registers 135 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from the heat add the sugar and salt and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Slowly add in the cream and vanilla, stirring constantly, then transfer the panna cotta mixture to a bowl and set in in the ice bath. Let sit, stirring frequently until the temperature reaches 50 degrees. Strain the panna cotta through a fine-mesh strainer and divide evenly between ramekins or serving glasses. Refrigerate until set and chilled, about 4 hours. Serve the panna cottas, topped with the apricot sauce. (instructions follow)
To make the amaretto-apricot sauce: Combine the apricots, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, until the apricots release their juices about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Using a potato masher, mash the apricots to break them down a bit. Off the heat add in the amaretto. Chill until ready to serve.