Chocolate panna cotta

Serves 4

This panna cotta is undeniably rich and a little goes a long way. It should be slightly wobbly and served straight from the fridge, as the coolness counteracts its rich flavour.

A little neutral-tasting oil such as corn or sunflower with which to grease the moulds

200g/7oz good-quality dark chocolate (about 70 per cent cocoa solids)
2 leaves of gelatine
190ml/6 fl oz whole milk
250ml/8fl oz double cream
100g/3 oz caster sugar
1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthwise

Lightly oil four individual dariole moulds of 200ml/7fl oz capacity each. Chop the chocolate roughly in small pieces, and place in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, without stirring. Once the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat and set aside so that it cools slightly.

Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for about 5 minutes.

Place the milk, cream, sugar and vanilla pod in a heavy-based pan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and strain through a colander on to the melted chocolate. Stir well to combine. Squeeze the gelatine to remove the excess water and add to the mixture, stirring as you do so to dissolve the gelatine. Pour into the moulds and allow to cool completely. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

To serve, drop the base of the mould into warm water then quickly remove and run a small knife around the outside and turn out on to chilled plates.

Serve with honey, caramel sauce, nuts such as pecans or simply cream.

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