Place the milk in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Stir well, and set aside to allow gelatin to soften for 10 minutes.
If using ramekins, brush the insides of 6 4 ounce ramekins with a coating of neutral oil and set aside.
Fill a large bowl half-way with ice and add enough water to make an ice bath and set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine the cream, sugar and vanilla extract or split vanilla bean, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat, and whisk in the softened gelatin/milk mixture. Remove the vanilla bean pod and discard; and add the scraped beans to the cooling milk mixture.
Set the saucepan in the ice bath (making sure the top of the saucepan is well above the surface of the water), and whisk until the milk mixture is lukewarm. To make sure there is no undissolved gelatin or sugar, rub a little of the milk mixture through your fingers. There should be no gritty feeling.