This simple, Italian-inspired dessert (the name means ''cooked cream'') can be dressed up with almost any kind of fresh fruit. As served at St. John, it is noticeably (and pleasantly) alcoholic—but the quantity of bourbon may be reduced by 1 tbsp. without affecting the quality of the dish.
3 tbsp. chilled heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp. powdered gelatin
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup bourbon
1/2 split vanilla bean
1. Place chilled heavy cream in a small bowl, sprinkle with powdered gelatin, let stand for 10 minutes, then gently stir together.
2. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, combine heavy cream, sugar, bourbon, and vanilla bean. Bring just to a boil, whisking frequently, over medium-high heat. Add gelatin mixture, remove from heat, and whisk for 1 minute.
3. Strain mixture through a fine sieve. Evenly divide between four 1-cup custard molds, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 12 hours. To unmold, gently pull panna cotta away from sides, using your fingers or a paring knife, then turn onto small plates and shake vigorously to loosen. Serve with poached or fresh fruit.