1 cup (250 mL) whipping cream
2 tbsp. (30 mL) buttermilk or sour cream
Gently warm whipping cream (being careful not to let it boil). Remove from heat and combine with buttermilk in a glass bowl. Mix well, cover and let stand at room temperature overnight. Give it a good stir once it has thickened, cover and refrigerate. It will keep well for up to 10 days in the refrigerator.
Port-soaked Figs with Panna Cotta (makes 8 servings)
You can prepare the figs a day in advance; the longer they sit in the port and orange mixture, the tastier they will be.
2 cups (500 mL) port
1/2 cup (125 mL) superfine granulated sugar
3 strips of orange zest, pith removed
8 figs, halved
4 cups (1 L) whipping cream
3/4 cup (175 mL) granulated sugar
1 tsp. (5 mL) pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp. (30 mL) gelatin
1 cup (250 mL) boiling water
Combine port, sugar and orange zest in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add figs and reduce heat to simmer for one minute. Then remove from heat, cover with a lid and leave to cool. Transfer to the refrigerator and let steep for at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours.
In a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, warm cream, sugar and vanilla, just until cream is rippling slightly around the edges. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, pour gelatin into 1/2 cup (125 mL) of boiling water. Then add another 1/2 cup (125 mL) of boiling water, stirring to dissolve, about 1 to 2 minutes. Pour into hot cream mixture and stir to dissolve completely. Spray bottom and sides of 8 ramekins or custard cups with cooking spray. Use a ladle to pour the mixture into the cups. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours until completely set.
To serve, hold a sieve over a bowl and pour figs and liquid through the sieve. Discard orange zest. Run a paring knife around edges of panna cotta and turn out onto a dessert plate. Pour some of the fig's soaking liquid around panna cotta and add 2 fig halves to each. Repeat with remaining panna cotta and figs. Reserve any leftover liquid for the table. Serve immediately.