This is the best way I know to prepare this sometimes trendy dessert. I like to serve some type of crisp cookie at the same time. For best results don't over-bake the custard.

Custard Mixture

1 quart heavy whipping cream

1 cup sugar, or more, as needed

2 vanilla beans, split down the middle

14 large egg yolks


1 cup sugar

A blowtorch

8 shallow, oval porcelain dishes set in a jelly roll pan or half sheet pan

  1. Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees.
  2. Combine the cream, sugar and vanilla beans in a non-reactive saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off heat and allow vanilla beans to steep in hot cream for 10 minutes. Remove vanilla beans, scraping out the centers into the cream.
  3. Return the cream to a boil. Meanwhile, whisk the yolks in a bowl, then pour in the hot cream, whisking constantly, in a thin stream. Don't over-mix and make a lot of foam on the surface of the mixture.
  4. Strain the custard into another bowl and allow it to stand 5 minutes. Skim the foam from the surface and bring the bowl of custard to the stove. Place the pan of prepared dishes on the stove and fill them with the custard mixture. Place the pan on the oven rack and pour about 1/2-inch of warm water on the pan.
  5. Bake the custards about 30 minutes, until they are set, but not puffed. Carefully remove pan from oven and use a large spatula to remove the individual dishes to a cool pan. Refrigerate them uncovered until ready to caramelize them.
  6. Sprinkle each custard with a tablespoon or two of sugar, spreading it evenly. Use a blow-torch to caramelize the sugar, moving the flame in a series of arcs to avoid leaving it in one place too long. Serve the caramelized custards within several hours.