While gelatine is the traditional setting agent, I also love using agar-agar to make these gorgeous desserts.
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
3 tablespoons caster sugar
¼ teaspoon agar-agar
50 grams dark chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon Cointreau
Grilled Apricots, recipe below
8 firm but ripe apricots
½ cup white wine
Heat 450ml of the cream, vanilla and sugar over a low heat until hot but not boiling, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
Put the agar-agar in a bowl and gradually whisk in the remaining cream to make a smooth paste.
Whisk this into the hot cream and slowly bring to the boil, whisking constantly. Simmer gently for 1 minute, stirring constantly then take off the heat and whisk in the chocolate until smooth and well combined.
Stir in the Cointreau and cool for 10 minutes. Pour into glasses and when cool, cover and chill.
To serve: Top each panna cotta with a spoonful of mascarpone, grilled apricots and chopped pistachios.
Preheat the grill to its highest setting.
Halve and pit the apricots. Place cut side up in a baking dish that will hold them snugly.
Drizzle each cavity generously with honey then wine, pouring any remaining wine into the base of the dish. Grill until lightly golden and very soft but not totally collapsing. Cool.
Pantry note: Agar-agar is a plant-based setting agent. Ensure you meausre it correctly as a larger quantity will give a much firmer set.