- 2 whole vanilla beans, split lengthwise, seeds removed
- 1 quart heavy cream
- 8 large egg yolks
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup apple sauce
Preheat oven to 275°F.
Into a large saucepot, scrape the centers of the vanilla beans. Add the scraped bean pods as well. Pour in the heavy cream and bring to almost a simmer over medium heat (do not boil). Remove from the heat and set aside until ready to use as directed.
In a separate bowl, whisk the yolks and granulated sugar together. Remove the vanilla bean pods from the cream and pour it into the egg yolk mixture, whisking until combined. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a deep bowl. Using a ladle or spoon, pop any bubbles that have formed. Ladle ¾ cup of the mixture into each of eight 8-ounce ceramic ramekins. Set the ramekins into a baking pan that you carefully fill with hot water halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 25 minutes. Shake a ramekin to check for firmness. If the custard is still liquefied, bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the water bath and allow to cool at room temperature for 10 minutes. Place in the refrigerator and chill until ready to serve. Remove from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature before serving.
Top each ramekin with a thin layer of sifted brown sugar, enough to cover the custard. Using a small butane torch, caramelize the sugar until it forms a crispy shell. You may also place under the broiler for no more than 30 seconds to achieve the same effect. Serve immediately.
Espresso Creme Brulee: Follow the above recipe, adding 1 tablespoon good-quality instant espresso powder to the custard before baking.