Even though Creme Brulee had apparently been around for centuries (George Washington apparently served it at The White House) supposedly the Spanish owner Of NYC's Le Cirque (in the early 1980's) inspired by a Catalonian flan enjoyed on a vacation to Spain conspired with his German pastry chef to re-create the Creme Brulee. And when Paul Bocuse visited and proclaimed it the best dessert he had enjoyed that year the dessert became wildly popular not only in America but France as well. I copied the recipe out of Gourmet Magazine while home for a college break.
Over the years I've made it I've found that dark brown sugar dried out in a 200 degree oven and then powdered in the food processor makes an easier, more enjoyable "burnt" brulee than white or turbinado sugar. —David
dry out brown sugar in 200 degree oven for 3 hours, allow to cool and grind into a powder in food processor
combine cream, vanilla bean and scrapings and bring just to a simmer, take off the heat and allow to cool for 20 minutes.
combine yolks and sugar. Pour a little of the warm cream into egg yolks and stir to temper. Then pour in the rest and combine. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a pitcher.
arrange 6 deeper sided circular 6 ounce ramekins in 9 x 13 baking dish.
Fill ramekins with custard. Pour boiling water into 9 x 13 dish so the water rises at least halfway up ramekins. Bake in 300 oven for about 35 minutes until edges are set and center jiggles like jelly.
To serve add powdered brown sugar on top and tilt to get an even layer. Place under broiler and watch until caramelized.