Prep 30 mins
Cook 45 mins
Crisp sugar top, warm center, what else is there to say? Try crystalized ginger and orange zest instead of the vanilla bean for a change of pace.
- 1⁄2 vanilla bean, split
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 pinch salt
- 1⁄4 cup sugar
- 8 teaspoons sugar (for tops)
- Preheat the oven to 300F with the rack in the center.
- Line a deep baking dish with a cloth and have tea kettle of boiling water ready.
- Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla and put in a heavy saucepan.
- Add the vanilla beans and cream.
- Heat on medium high until bubbles just form around the edges of the pan.
- Remove from heat and set aside to steep for 15 minutes.
- In a large bowl or stand mixer, combine the egg yolks, salt, and sugar and beat until the mixture is pale yellow and thick ribbons fall from the beater.
- Very gradually add 1/3 to 1/2 of the cream mixture to the egg mixture, stirring constantly.
- Be careful not to "scramble" the eggs.
- Once about half of the cream is in, the outside of the bowl should be warm and you can speed up the addition of cream.
- Run the whole mix through a fine mesh seive lined with cheesecloth over a bowl.
- Fill 4 ramekins almost to the top (between 3/4 and full).
- Place them in the lined baking dish and carefully pour the boiling water into the dish about half way up the sides of the ramekins.
- Cover the pan loosely with foil and bake until custards are just set around the edges (30-45 minutes).
- Transfer the ramekins to a wire rack to cool for about 30 minutes.
- Cover and refrigerate until chilled (about 4 hours).
- They will keep for about 3 days at this point.
- To serve, sprinkle 2 tsp of sugar over each dish and melt the sugar using a kitchen torch until evenly melted and golden.
- You may also put them under the broiler if you do not have a torch.