Creme brulee with its hardened caramelized sugar capping the velvety smooth custard has been a favorite restaurant dessert for decades and is currently enjoying a new wave of popularity. Chef Randy Windham’s version uses aromatic vanilla beans to flavor these rich treats.
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1 quart
- Vanilla Beans - 2, split lengthwise
- Egg Yolks - 6
- Granulated Sugar - 2/3 cup
- Raw or Brown Sugar - 5 tablespoons
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Put the cream in a medium saucepan and scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the cream, then drop in the pods. Scald the cream and vanilla beans over medium heat. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar together until thick and lemon-colored. Remove the vanilla bean pods from the cream. Slowly whisk the hot cream into the yolk mixture. Whisk until smooth. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve.
Fill ten 4-ounce souffle dishes or ramekins to 1/4 inch from the top. Place the cups in a baking pan and add 1 inch of warm water to the pan. Cover the cups with aluminum foil or a baking sheet. Bake 30 to 45 minutes, until set. Remove from the oven and cover each cup with plastic wrap. Chill for at least 8 hours.
To serve: Preheat the broiler to high. Evenly spread the raw or brown sugar on top of the custards. Place under the broiler and broil until the sugar is caramelized. Remove and let the tops cool and harden before serving.