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Honey Mascarpone Panna Cotta with (or without) Pomegranate Syrup

Yields1 Serving

 1 pkg. plain gelatin (or 1 tablespoon if you buy it in bulk)
 1 L half & half or 18% coffee cream
 1/2 cup mascarpone
 1/4 cup honey
 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract (optional)
Pomegranate Syrup (optional)
 2 cups pomegranate juice (POM comes in 473 mL bottles-perfect)
 1/2 cup sugar
 a few strips of orange zest (optional)
1

Pour the cream into a medium pot and sprinkle with gelatin. Let it sit for a few minutes to let the gelatin soften. Set the pot over medium heat and stir, warming the cream but not letting it boil, until the gelatin is completely dissolved.

2

Add the mascarpone (I just eyeball it, adding a large spoonful) and honey and cook, stirring, until the mascarpone is melted and the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.

3

Pour the mixture into individual wine glasses, small dishes or ramekins. (If you want to unmould them onto a plate to serve them, spray the dishes with nonstick spray first.) Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until set. (These can be made up to a few days in advance; cover each dish with plastic wrap to avoid having them dry out on top.)

4

To make the pomegranate syrup, simmer the pomegranate juice, sugar and orange peel in a small pot set over medium heat until it reduces by half. Remove the peel and cool completely - it should have the consistency of syrup. (This too can be made up to a week in advance and refrigerated.)

5

Serve your panna cotta in the ramekins or unmoulded onto a small plate, drizzled with pomegranate syrup.