This large-format panna cotta takes all the fussiness out of serving the dessert in individual ramekins. It also allows you to have a cold, creamy dessert ready in the fridge for summer entertaining whenever you want it. Treat the panna cotta like ice cream and scoop large spoonfuls into bowls that you then top with whatever fresh, macerated fruit you prefer (see recipe below). Orange works well with most fruits, but if you are averse to it, simply leave the zest out of the panna cotta or use lemon instead; and in place of the orange liqueur use cherry eau de vie or rum.
Pour 3 cups of the cream into a medium saucepan and add the vanilla bean seeds and the spent pod. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the orange in strips and add them to the cream; reserve the peeled orange for another use. Place the pan over medium-high heat and bring to just under a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low to maintain a steady but gentle simmer and cook the cream, stirring occasionally, until reduced slightly, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, pour the milk into a bowl and sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the surface of the milk. Stir the two together with a fork just to ensure the gelatin is evenly moistened in the milk; it will be clumpy. Let stand for 5 minutes, or while the cream simmers.
Remove the pot of cream from the heat, then scrape the milk-gelatin mixture into the cream, using a silicone spatula to get every last bit. Add the salt and stir until the gelatin is fully dissolved.
Pour the cream mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl and discard the orange peels but rinse and dry the vanilla bean pod pieces (see note below). Nest the bowl of cream in an ice bath and use a whisk to stir constantly but leisurely, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl, until the cream is cool to the touch. This should take about 3 minutes; stirring it steadily helps prevent any gelatin from solidifying in clumps around the edges of the cream. Stir in the orange liqueur.
Pour the remaining 1 ½ cups heavy cream into a large bowl or bowl attached to a stand mixer, add the powdered sugar and whisk until soft peaks form. While continuing to stir with the whisk, or on low speed of the mixer, slowly drizzle in the cooled cream mixture until smooth.
Pour the mixture into a 9-by-13-inch rectangular or oval baking dish and cover the top of the dish with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the panna cotta until set, at least 4 hours.
To serve, scoop large spoonfuls of panna cotta into chilled shallow serving bowls and top with macerated fruit. Serve while cold.
Place the fruit in a bowl and sprinkle it with the sugar and salt. Stir to combine, then let stand for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Taste the fruit and adjust the sweetness and saltiness to your taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use, up to 3 days.
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