This recipe originated in Cambridge, England and has become associated with France and is widely made and eaten there. This dessert is becoming one of my favorites, because I love custard, love caramelized sugar, and I add a little orange liqueur to give it a little more flavor.
There are couple secrets to this recipe. The first being you need to use an actual vanilla bean. Trust me its not hard, scrape out the bean, boil and strain. Sure beats using extract. The second secret is in using boiling water in your roasting pan (or cookie sheet) half why up the ramekins during the baking process.
You may ask what is a ramekin? It’s a small 4.5 oz bowl. You can pick them up almost anywhere.
1 vanilla bean
4 cups heavy cream
6 egg yolks
½ cup superfine sugar (baker’s sugar)
2 tablespoons almond or orange liqueur
1/3 cup light brown sugar
Preheat the over to 300 degrees. Place six half cup ramekins in a roasting pan or ovenproof dish and set aside (I did eight ramekins).
Split the vanilla bean lengthwise with a small knife. Scrap out the black seeds and put into a medium sauce pan along with the outer casing of the bean. Add the cream and bring just to a boil over medium-high heat, stir frequently. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 15-20 minutes.
In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks, superfine sugar, and liqueur until well blended. Whisk in the hot cream and strain into a large pitcher. Be sure to strain we don’t want beans in the pitcher. Divide equally among the ramekins.
Pour boiling water into the roasting pan (the ramekins are already in the pan) to come up to halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes until the custards are just set. Remove from the pan and let cool on a rake. Empty the water from the roasting pan. Return the ramekins to the dry roasting pan and chill.
Preheat the broiler. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the surface of each custard and broil for 30-60 seconds until the sugar melts and caramelizes. Do not let the sugar burn or the custard will curdle.
Place in the refrigerator to set the curst and chill completely before serving.