Black Forest Panna Cottas

8 ounces cherries, pitted and quartered

¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

1 ½ cups milk
1 tablespoon gelatin
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon Kirsch

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped or scant 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips


Combine the cherries, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, and ½ cup water in a small pot, bring to a boil, and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, or until tender. Let cool slightly and puree in a food mill using a fine disc.


Measure ½ cup of the milk into a small bowl and slowly sprinkle over gelatin. Combine the remaining 1 cup of milk, 1 ½ cups of the cream, and remaining ¼ cup sugar in a small saucepan. Heat to a bare simmer. Whisk in the gelatin mixture and then the cherry puree, Kirsch, and vanilla. Chill over an ice bath until just beginning to thicken. Divide among 6 dessert cups. Refrigerate for about an hour, or until set.


Bring the remaining ½ cup cream to a bare simmer in a small, heavy saucepan. Place the chocolate into a small bowl, add the hot cream, and whisk until smooth. Let cool slightly and divide among the dessert cups. Refrigerate for about an hour, or until set.


Serves 6. If you can get your hands on it, use Tahitian vanilla, which has a uniquely floral character.