Creme Brulee has always been Freddy's favorite dessert, so I have had plenty of years to fine tune this simple recipe. In the Summer I make a light whole egg(+yolks) version and include a bottom layer of fruit. But, this one is over the top rich, starting with a layer of caramel, and then custard that is egg yolk only and uses two whole vanilla beans, then is topped with a caramelized crust of sugar. —dymnyno
Brown Sugar Caramel
1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup cream
Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee
12 egg yolks
3/4 cup white sugar
4 1/2 cups cream
2 whole vanilla beans
Plus about a heaping teaspoon of white sugar for each ramekin to caramelize the tops
Over high heat, melt 1 cup butter and add 2 cups brown sugar and whisk together.
When they are melted together and starting to foam, remove from the heat and add 1 cup cream.
Return to the heat for a few minutes and then remove and pour about a half inch into each of the ramekins that you are using for the creme brulee and cool. If you want to show the layer of caramel, use a glass ramekin. For a surprise, use a ceramic ramekin.
For the Vanilla Creme Brulee: Cut a vertical slit down the middle of each bean and scrape out the soft pulp.
In a large saucepan, heat 4 1/2 cups of cream, 3/4 cup sugar, and the vanilla bean pulp and throw in the pods too, until it comes to a gentle boil.
In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and then add a little of the hot cream and whisk together. Then add the egg and cream back to the pot with the hot cream.
Lower the heat and keep stirring until the pudding thickens. (This should take only a few minutes). Remove the vanilla bead pods from the pot).
Pour into the ramekins over the caramel.
Place the ramekins in a shallow pan and fill the pan about half way up the side of the ramekins with cold water and bake in a 300 degree oven for about 30 minutes, until just set.
Remove from the oven and cool.
To caramelize the tops and create a crust, liberally sprinkle white sugar over the tops and then broil until caramelized or use a torch (like a mini blow torch).
****To ensure that the creme brulee has a crackly, crusty caramelized top, remove the creme brulee from the refrigerator about 15 minutes before serving and torch the sugar that you have sprinkled on top...do not return it to the refrigerator as moisture will soften the top.