SERVES: SERVES 4
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup superfine sugar
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
5 egg yolks
¼ to ⅓ cup sanding sugar
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and position a rack in the lower third of the oven.
Stir together the cream and ½ cup of the superfine sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Scrape the vanilla seeds from the inside of the pod halves and add them to the pan along with the pod halves. Bring to a simmer over medium low heat, whisking constantly, until the edges of the mixture just start to bubble. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool for 10-15 minutes then discard the vanilla bean pod.
Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining ½ cup superfine sugar until light and pale yellow.
Strain the cream mixture into a 4 cup pyrex measuring cup or another bowl then slowly pour about ¼ of the hot cream mixture (about ¾ cup) into the yolks in a slow, steady stream while whisking constantly. Slowly whisk the rest of the cream mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly.
Place the ramekins on a high sided baking pan and ladle the custard, dividing it equally among the ramekins. Place the baking pan in the oven and carefully pour hot water into the pan to reach ⅔ of the ay of the sides of the ramekins.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until the custards are mostly set but still a bit wobbly in the center. Tent the ramekins with aluminum foil if they begin to brown.
Carefully remove the baking pan from the oven, and then carefully remove the custards from the water bath. Cool for 1 hour then refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 3 days.
To serve, sprinkle with 1 generous tablespoon of the sugar evenly over the top of each custard. Slowly wave a kitchen torch back and forth over the sugar one custard at a time until the sugar melts and changes to an amber color. Let the custards sit just until the sugar hardens then serve immediately.