4 cups heavy cream (can use milk if you don't have heavy cream)
1/2 c sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 packets of powdered gelatin
6 tbsp cold water
9 ozs of semi-sweet mini chocolate chips (the remaining 3 ozs can be sprinkled on top before serving)
Put cold water in a large bowl. (All of the mixture will be poured into this bowl after heating.) Sprinkle gelatin over the surface of the water. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, heat cream and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Do NOT boil! Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract and semi-sweet chips. Whisk until completely melted. (This whole process is less than 5 minutes.)
Pour warm chocolate mixture over gelatin in bowl. Mix until gelatin is dissolved. (Gelatin will have gelled- go figure!- so this process melts the gelatin and incorporates it into the panna cotta mixture.)
Pour into 8 serving bowls or ramekins. Refrigerate until cooled and completely set. About 2 hours.
Top with whipped cream and semi-sweet mini chips and serve. Can also be topped with fresh berries. Or all of the above.
The panna cotta can also be left 'plain' with no chocolate flavor added (perish the thought!) and then topped with a berry sauce. For a fancier serving, use a flavorless oil to coat the serving dishes you pour the warm panna cotta into and unmold onto dessert plates before serving. Then top with your sauce. (To unmold- run a sharp knife around the edge of the dish and invert onto the serving plate.)
Fear not the panna cotta! It's pudding in Italian clothing.