I had fantastic plans for this year’s Valentine’s Day gelatin mold – it was going to be the gelatinous exemplification of my disillusioned feelings towards this holiday, while paying tribute an amazing band that wrote at least 69 of my favorite love songs. However, since the super boozy gelatin of my imagination requires a great deal of work (including my friend Matt’s assistance in using a kitchen floor vacuum former), it will not be completed in time for V-Day. Therefore, I’m re-posting last year’s popular chocolate and strawberry panna cotta instead.

Here are some fun variations for this recipe:

  • If you are not a fan of intense dark chocolate, reduce the baking cocoa to ¼ cup.
  • Add two tablespoons of your favorite liqueur to liven things up. An orange or raspberry liqueur would nicely compliment the chocolate.
  • Replace strawberries with raspberries, blackberries, or blueberries. Orange or tangerine juice would work as well.
  • Instead of adding a fruit layer, make a blackberry syrup or strawberry coulis.
  • Instead of having two layers, add ¼ of pureed and strained berries to the chocolate panna cotta. Reduce heaving whipping cream to 1 ¾ cups.
  • Add a ½ cup of a flavored simple syrup (see chocolate cardamom panna cotta), reduce milk and cream by ¼ cup each.

Strawberry top layer (Recipe for 1 ¾ cups)

  • One packet Knox gelatin
  • ¼ cup water (for blooming)
  • ½ cup water (for boiling)
  • ¼ cup sugar (or to taste)
  • 1 cup pureed strawberries, seeds strained (NOTE: it is very important to strain the seeds! Otherwise, they will sink to the bottom of the mold, and show up on the surface. Not pretty!)

Put ¼ cup of cold water in a medium bowl and sprinkle 1 packet of gelatin on top of the water. Set bowl aside.

Put water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a low boil until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add to the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in pureed strawberries. Pour mixture into mold(s). Put in refrigerator until almost set. It should stick to your fingers when slightly touched.

 Chocolate Panna Cotta (Recipe for 2.5 cups)

  • One packet Knox gelatin
  • ½ cup whole milk (for blooming gelatin)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup baking cocoa powder

Sprinkle the packet of gelatin on top of ½ cup cold milk. Set aside for 5 minutes.

In a small saucepan heat up cream and sugar. Add cocoa a little bit at a time and stir thoroughly. If clumps of cocoa remain, strain to remove. Once sugar dissolves, pour over the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Refrigerate until not set, but cool. Pour into mold(s) and refrigerate for 4 hours.

To remove gelatin, put mold into a bowl or sink full of hot water for a few seconds. After removing from hot water, gently shake the mold side to side. Put plate on top of mold and flip over. If gelatin does not come out, try repeating the process.