Total time: 30 minutes, plus setting time
Note: This recipe can also be poured into oiled 1/2-cup ramekins and unmolded after chilling. Adapted from Deborah Madison's "Seasonal Fruit Desserts."
1 cup half-and-half
5 to 7 tablespoons sugar
1 (3-inch) piece vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
2 cups cultured low-fat buttermilk or kefir
1 (1/4-ounce) envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1. Heat the half-and-half with the sugar and the vanilla bean in a medium saucepan over high heat. Once it reaches a boil, remove from heat. Pour the buttermilk into a metal bowl and set the bowl over the half-and-half for 15 minutes to remove the chill. Meanwhile, stir the gelatin into the cold water and set aside for 5 minutes to soften.
2. Remove the bowl of buttermilk from over the half-and-half. Take the vanilla bean out and scrape the seeds back in, reserving the pod to make vanilla sugar, if desired.
3. Heat the half-and-half once again until it comes to a near boil, then remove from heat. Stir in the softened gelatin until it's completely dissolved, then whisk in the buttermilk. Pour the mixture into 6 juice glasses and refrigerate until set, about 3 hours.
Each serving: 137 calories; 5 grams protein; 18 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 5 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 18 mg. cholesterol; 17 grams sugar; 105 mg. sodium.