Why goat milk? I have two words for you- fat particles. Did you know that goat milk has higher fat content than cow milk? Not only that, but the fat particles are smaller and therefore they stay evenly distributed through the milk, which is what gives everything goaty its lush, rich flavor. Yes, I am getting goaty with it. Before you get worried this panna cotta tastes like chevre, it doesn't- in fact, when you taste it, you'll be surprised it contains goat milk and buttermilk because all you taste is creamy richness...
2 Tbsp. water
2 tsp. unflavored gelatin
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 cups goat milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla powder
Pour the water into a small bowl or cup. Sprinkle the unflavored gelatin over the water. Let this rest for a few minutes and in the meantime, combine the heavy cream and 1/2 cup of sugar in a small sauce pan over medium low heat. Take the 1/2 of a vanilla bean and cut a slit lengthwise down the bean. Peel back either side so that you are looking at all the tiny seeds inside. Use the blunt edge of your knife to scrape them out as best you can, adding them to the heavy cream and sugar mixture. Also add the scraped vanilla bean. You will have the best luck using a whisk to mix this- now because of the vanilla bean's seeds and later because of the gelatin. Bring the cream, sugar and vanilla bean mixture to a simmer, then remove from heat. Immediately add the gelatin, you may need to use a spatula to scrape it out of its bowl, it will be fairly solid. Whisk well, you want the gelatin to dissolve evenly. (Don't be shy about letting the milk and sugar mixture bubble a little bit, it needs to be hot enough to dissolve the gelatin.)
In a separate bowl, possibly with a pouring spout, combine the buttermilk, goat milk and vanilla powder. Add the cream mixture and stir well. Taste the mixture and determine whether or not you'd like to add the additional 1 Tbsp. of sugar (I do). Mix well, then pour into ramekins. This makes 8 generously sized portions. Cover the ramekins with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. As you are pouring, you'll notice the vanilla bean seeds seem unevenly distributed. Just try your best to spread them around the ramekins evenly. What will happen is that the seeds will sink to the bottom of the ramekins anyhow, making an interesting pattern when you turn out the panna cotta later. Don't have ramekins? Not a problem. Use a rectangular or square cake or brownie pan, no greasing necessary. After it has set, use a knife to cut square portions and a spatula to help you remove them. The ideal height of panna cotta is about 1 1/2" deep, if you go much taller, they kind of can't sustain their own weight once on a serving plate. In either the ramekins or the rectangular pan, this will be best if you let it set overnight. It's done when it has the texture and bounciness of jello. Although panna cotta means cooked cream, it's really done with gelatin. We LOVE panna cotta at our house, even baby!
You may eat this panna cotta by itself or with a small amount of this syrup (the recipe below).
Lychee Rose Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 20 oz. can lychee, drained
1/2 Tbsp. rose syrup
In a small sauce pan, combine the water, sugar and lychee over medium heat. Stir occasionally as the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to medium-high and gently boil, uncovered for 15 minutes. Strain using a colander or sieve and refrigerate. Once cooled, stir in the rose syrup.
Once your panna cotta is 'set,' turn it out onto the serving plate and top with a small amount of syrup. Enjoy!
A few thoughts about lychee... I love lychee, they are so delicious! If you aren't familiar with lychee, they are a fruit that originated in southern China. During the summer, you can sometimes find them fresh in the produce section. They are small and round, have a hard outer shell that is light to dark pink and has a 'crackled' appearance. This shell should be removed and inside the fruit has ivory, opaque flesh. Inside the fruit is a black large seed (don't eat the shell or the seed). Lychee is available year round in cans, usually in the Asian section of the supermarket. These will already be peeled and seeded for you. Sometimes lychee is mistakenly referred to as a 'lychee nut.' This is not correct, and actually refers to a dried version of the lychee fruit. If you are incredibly fortunate, you may also have longan available in the summer at your supermarket. Longan, which means dragon eye, is a similar fruit with a more delicate flavor that is similar in appearance but the outer color of the shell is dark yellow. Longan are usually a little smaller than lychee. Lychee may also be spelled lizhi, which is the technically correct Mandarin Chinese spelling.
What if you find yourself with an overwhelming urge to wear black pajamas like a cat burglar and sneak into your neighbor's backyard to steal lychee from their trees? Well, you would not be the first, my friend...