Adapted from the Le Cirque recipe
4 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, slit in half lengthwise and seeds scraped
3/4 cup sugar
7 large egg yolks
Turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw)
Preheat oven to 300º.
In a medium saucepan, heat cream, vanilla pod, vanilla seeds, and sugar over medium heat, stirring occasionally, till bubbles form around perimeter. Do not allow to boil. Remove from heat.
Whisk eggs in large glass measuring cup (or bowl). Temper yolks by adding a small amount of hot cream to the yolks while whisking. Repeat a few more times, making sure to keep whisking so yolks do not cook. Pour tempered yolks back into pan and whisk till smooth. Strain the mixture into large measuring cup (you may reuse the cup utilized for tempering) to remove vanilla pod, seeds and any bits of cooked yolk.
Place nine 8 ounce ramekins in roasting pan. Fill the ramekins to the top with custard. Carefully place pan in the oven, and pour enough hot water in roasting pan to come halfway up ramekins. Bake until custard is set and jiggles slightly when shaken, about 50 minutes.
Remove from water bath and let cool a half hour or so. Chill for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days. Before serving, sprinkle with turbinado sugar and broil (approximately 4 inches from element) till sugar caramelizes....watch carefully as this takes less than a minute. You may also use a kitchen torch to caramelize. Place on small plate to serve.
You may also use shallow ramekins...baking time is decreased to about 40 minutes.