In top of double boiler over hot water, heat cream, vanilla bean and sugar to almost boiling.
Lower heat and simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Beat eggs and egg yolks.
Pour cream mixture in a thin stream into eggs, stirring constantly.
Return to double boiler.
Cook over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 3 to 4 minutes or until custard coats back of spoon.
Remove vanilla bean.
Pour into 6 custard dishes or 4 to 5 cup flame proof serving dish.
Set dishes in a large pan of hot water on middle rack of oven.
(Hot water should be level with custard.) Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until center of custard is set. Remove custard from water and cool.
Cover and chill.
To serve, sift brown sugar on top of creme. Place dish into bowl of crushed ice. Leaving door open, place under broiler at least 6" from flame until hard crust of caramelized sugar is formed.
Serve immediately or chill until serving time. Pass bowl of fresh raspberries along with creme for the perfect topping.
Add a spoonful of whipped creme to the custard, if desired.
VARIATIONS, FLAVORED CREME BRULEE:
Add 1 pod for 3 cups of cream.
Break it open lengthwise or simply pierce it, and put it into liquid before it boils.
Add 4 1/2 oz cooking chocolate for each 3 cups of cream, melted in warm liquid.
Add 4 1/2oz pralines to each 3 cups of cream after it is cooked.
Add 1 cup finely chopped pecans or brazil nuts for 3 cups cream after it is cooled.
Use 3 oz coffee beans (Espresso, French Roast, etc -- ) finely ground, then grilled in a pan of 3 cups cream.
Add to boiling liquid; infuse for 15 minutes, then strain.
Mash 2 soft bananas; saute in 1 tbsp butter.
Add 2 tbsp brandy and 2 tsp brown sugar.
Cook for 5 minutes.
Pat down on bottom of creme brulee pan before adding liquid.
Use a double boiler to scald the cream unless you have a heavy saucepan. Use very low heat. Milk scorches easily and, when scorched, should be thrown out.
Beat eggs or egg yolks with a wire whisk or beater. Add sugar gradually and continue whipping until it is thoroughly mixed inches.
NEVER add eggs directly to a hot mixture. (unless you like scrambled eggs in cream.) Pour some of the hot liquid into the eggs while stirring briskly, then return the warmed combination to the remaining hot liquid in the pan.
Stir the custard constantly over low heat until it acquires body. Test it by letting it run off the back of a spoon; if a light coating clings to the spoon, the custard is finished.
Stir the custard occasionally as it cools to prevent a surface skin from forming. When it is cool, chill it, covered lightly with a clean dish towel, in the refrigerator.