A burst of berries makes this classic, creamy custard dessert absolutely sublime! They can be made ahead for easy entertaining - then get out your blow torch for the best brûlée effect and to dazzle your guests.
In a saucepan, combine cream and half of the sugar; heat over medium heat until steaming. In a heatproof bowl, whisk together remaining sugar, eggs and egg yolks until pale. Gradually whisk in heated cream mixture in a slow steady stream; whisk in vanilla.
Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a liquid measuring cup wih a pouring spout. Place blackberries evenly in bottom of six 3/4 cup, or 8 1/2 cup ramekins, or crème brûlée dishes. Pour cream mixture evenly over top.
Set ramekins in a roasting pan and place pan in oven. Pour in enough boiling water to come to three quarters up sides of ramekins.Bake for 35-40 minutes until tops are firm and center is still slightly jiggly.
Let cool on rack. Cover loosely and refrigerate for about 2 hours, until chlled, or for up to 2 days.
TOPPING: Just before serving, preheat broiler, if using. Blot tops of custards, dry with paper towel. Sprinkle evenly with a thin layer of sugar, adding more if required. Broil on a baking sheet, rotating ramekins if necessary, or use a torch until sugar is bubbling and caramelized. Let cool for 3 minutes.
COOKING TOP: Fresh berries work best for rhis recipe. Frozen berries are too soft and rhe custard won't set properly. Rinse fresh berries and pat dry with paper towel just before serving.
VARIATION: Instead of sprinkling the tops with sugar and browning them, make a caramel syrup topping instead. Combine 3/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 cup water in a saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil, without stirring, until syrup turns a deep caramel colour. Let cool until bubbles subside; pour a thin layer onto custards and let harden.