Panna Cotta [pan-a-KOH-TAH] Simply translated from Italian means "cooked cream". Panna Cotta is wonderful, easy to make dessert that is very popular in Italy. The only cooking needed is done on your stove top then the dessert is chilled.
Make Ahead Note: This dessert should be made 24 hour ahead if possible. If it is underchilled it wont hold it's shape as nicely when inverted on the plate. Short on Time?: Serve the dessert in simple dish (rather than turning it out onto a plate), omit the vegetable oil spray. Our heart-shaped creme brulee/flan dish makes a nice presentation for a romantic meal. You should still chill the dessert for at least 6 hours.
Spray four 3/4-cup custard cups with vegetable oil spray. Pour 1 tablespoon milk into small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over and let stand until softened, about 10 minutes.
Combine cream, *1/4 cup sugar and 1/3 cup milk in heavy medium saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring often. Remove from heat. *If using Splenda, omit sugar, add Splenda after straining mixture.
Add gelatin mixture and stir until melted. Strain mixture into large glass measuring cup. If using Splenda, add it now. Chill until cold, about 2 hours. Pour into custard cups, cover and chill overnight.
Run small sharp knife around sides of cups to loosen custards. Invert custards onto plates. Serve with sauce.
Note: Don't skip the "straining" step as it removes any bits of undesolved gelatin and insures a nice smooth dessert