5 large egg yolks
3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar, divided
3 cups (720ml) heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 vanilla bea— split in half and scraped or 1.5 teaspoons pure vanilla extract*
Preheat oven to 325°F (163°C).
Whisk the egg yolks and 1/2 cup(100g) of granulated sugar together. Set aside. (At this point or before you temper the egg yolks in the next step, bring a small kettle or pot of water to a boil. You’ll need hot water to pour into the baking sheet for the water bath.)
Heat the heavy cream, scraped vanilla bean and salt together in a medium saucepan over medium heat. As soon as it begins to simmer, turn off the heat. Remove about 1/2 cup of warm heavy cream and, in a slow and steady stream, whisk into the egg yolks. Keep those egg yolks moving so they don’t scramble. In a slow and steady stream, pour and whisk the egg yolk mixture into the warm heavy cream.
Place ramekins in a large baking pan. If you don’t have 1 pan large enough, bake them in a couple pans. Divide custard between each ramekin, filling to the top. Carefully fill the pan with about a 1/2 inch of the hot water. The baking pan will be hot so use an oven mitt to carefully transfer the pan to the oven.
Bake until the edges are set and centers are a little jiggly. The time depends on the depth of your ramekins. My ramekins are 1-inch and the custard takes about 30minutes. Begin checking them at 25 minutes. For a more accurate sign, they’re done when an instant read thermometerregisters 170°F (77°C).
Remove pan from the oven and, using an oven mitt, remove the ramekins from the pan. Place on a wire rack to cool for at least 1 hour. Place in the refrigerator, loosely covered, and chill for at least 4 hours and up to 2 days before topping.
Using the remaining granulated sugar, sprinkle a thin layer all over the surface of the chilled custards. Caramelize the sugar with a kitchen torch and serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 1 hour before serving. (Caramelized topping is best enjoyed right away.)