Panna Cotta: Lightly brush 6 small ramekins or cups with a very thin layer of canola oil; set aside. Pour about half of the cream into a medium pot. Sprinkle gelatin on top and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes or until the surface is wrinkled and grains look wet. Turn heat to medium low and stir gently just until gelatin dissolves, about 2 minutes (it dissolves at body temperature but collapses at boiling). Add sugar and stir until sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in remaining cream and vanilla. Pour into prepared ramekins. Chill for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.
Spiced Vanilla Figs: Trim off and discard stems and cut each fig in half lengthwise. Stir water and honey together in a very small pan. Break 1 star anise into pieces and add to pan, along with remaining star anise. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Add figs and stir very gently to coat. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and let cool to room temperature.
Fill a medium bowl halfway with very hot water. Run a knife around inside lip of 1 panna cotta. Dip in hot water for 3 to 5 seconds. Flip onto a serving plate. If it doesn’t slide out, dip into water again for another 3 seconds. Top with figs and their sauce.
Optional: Sprinkle with chopped pistachios.
Nutrients per serving: 326 calories, 4 g protein, 22 g fat (14 g saturated fat), 30 g carbohydrates (2 g fibre), 82 mg cholesterol, 28 mg sodium.
Tip: Kid-sized plastic drinking cups are a perfect vessel to make them in because you can squeeze them slightly to encourage the panna cotta to unmould. You can also make them in vintage tea cups and serve them without unmoulding.