Vanilla Crème Brulée
Start-to-finish: 1 hour (20 minutes active) Serves 6
2 cups cream or half-and-half
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar, plus more for topping
Heat oven to 325 F. In a saucepan, combine cream and salt. Cook over low heat just until hot. Remove from heat. Let sit for a few minutes; stir in vanilla extract.
In a bowl, beat yolks and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually pour cream and vanilla mixture into eggs and sugar. Mix on low until blended. Pour into four 6-ounce ramekins. Place ramekins in a baking dish with tall sides. Fill dish with boiling water halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until centers are barely set. Remove from baking dish, and cool completely. Refrigerate for several hours and up to a couple of days.
When ready to serve, top each custard with about a teaspoon of sugar in a thin layer. Place ramekins under a broiler 2 to 3 inches from heat source. Turn on broiler. Cook until sugar melts and browns or even blackens a bit, about 5 minutes. Serve within two hours.