Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, milk, brown sugar and salt. Cook over moderate heat, stirring until the sugar melts and small bubbles appear around the rim. Remove from the heat and whisk in the chocolate until melted. Add the 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoons of vanilla. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Gradually whisk in the hot cream mixture, then strain the custard through a fine sieve into a bowl.
Set eight 1/2-cup ramekins in a roasting pan. Pour the custard into the ramekins and add enough hot water to the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover with foil and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the creme brulees are set but still slightly jiggly in the center. Uncover and let cool in the pan. Then refrigerate until very cold and firm, at least 5 hours.
Set the ramekins in the freezer for 20 minutes, until icy cold. Preheat the broiler and position a rack 6 inches from the heat source. Place 4 of the ramekins in a baking pan and fill it with ice. Sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar evenly over each of the creme brulees and broil for about 1 minute, until the tops are carmalized. Remove the creme brulees from the ice water and refrigerate just until chilled, about 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining creme brulees. Alternatively, caramelize the sugar with a propane or bruleee torch. Top the creme brulees with the caramel corn and serve.
Active: 15 minutes; Total: 45 minutes.
Makes 3 1/2 cups.
Line a large baking sheet pan with lightly buttered parchment paper or foil. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup and water and bring to a boil. Wash down the sides of the saucepan with a wet pastry brush. Cook the syrup over moderate heat without stirring, until a medium amber caramel color forms, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully stir in the butter and salt until melted. Add the popcorn and peanuts and carefully stir to coat all the pieces. Pour the caramel corn onto the buttered sheet pan and spread into an even layer. Drizzle any remaining caramel on top. Let cool for 30 minutes, then break the caramel corn into pieces.