3 cups whipping cream
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise or 1 tsp. best quality pure vanilla extract.?Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract, is available at most food specialty shops.
8?large egg yolks
1/2 cup plus?4 teaspoons sugar
Preheat oven to 325?F. Place cream in heavy medium saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean (or vanilla extract); add bean. Bring to simmer over medium heat. In a?medium metal?bowl, whisk together egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar until the sugar has dissolved. ?Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bowl to touch water). Whisk vigorously until yolk mixture is pale yellow and hot to touch, about 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in hot cream mixture; discard vanilla bean. Using a fine strainer, strain into a large bowl, skimming off any foam or bubbles.? Divide cream mixture among?four 3/4-cup souffl? dishes or custard cups. Arrange dishes in 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Pour enough hot water into pan to come halfway up sides of dishes. Bake custards until almost set in center and light golden on top, about 35 minutes. Remove custards from water after they have cooled and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
When ready to serve, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of sugar over each custard. For best results, use a small, hand-held torch to melt sugar. If you don’t have a torch,?preheat broiler. Place dishes?on a?small baking sheet. Broil until sugar just starts to caramelize, rotating sheet for even browning, about 2 minutes. Refrigerate custards up to three hours before serving.