The floral sweetness and slightly astringent tanginess of poached apricots makes them an ideal topping for mellow-flavored panna cotta.
Prepare an ice bath; set aside. Place 3 tablespoons cold water in a large bowl, and sprinkle with gelatin. Let stand until gelatin has softened, about 5 minutes.
Combine the cream and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add vanilla bean and scrapings. Gently simmer mixture until bubbles form around sides of pan, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool slightly. Discard vanilla pod.
Pour hot cream mixture into gelatin mixture, and whisk until combined. Set bowl in the ice bath. Let cool completely, stirring frequently. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a medium bowl. Divide among eight custard cups. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and chill until set, at least 4 hours or overnight.
To serve, remove the custard from refrigerator, uncover, and top each portion with two poached apricot halves.