Rich Vanilla Pots de Crème



1 plump vanilla bean (or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
6 large egg yolks


1. Position a rack in center of oven and preheat to 325°F. Coat six 5-ounce ramekins lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Place ramekins in a large baking or roasting pan and set aside.

2. Using a paring knife, cut a lengthwise slit down vanilla bean to expose seeds. In a medium saucepan, combine milk, heavy cream, and half of sugar. Scrape vanilla seeds into pan and add vanilla pod as well.  (If using vanilla extract, add it in Step #3 right before straining mixture.) Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg and egg yolks with remaining 1/4 cup sugar until blended. Gradually whisk about one-third of hot cream mixture into egg mixture. Whisk in remaining cream mixture and vanilla. Carefully pour custard mixture through fine-mesh sieve into prepared ramekins, dividing it evenly.

4. Place baking pan on oven rack and carefully pour enough hot water into pan so that it comes halfway up sides of ramekins. Cover pan loosely with aluminum foil and bake for 45-50 minutes, until custards jiggle slightly and are very shiny.

5. Remove ramekins from water bath and cool on wire rack for 30 minutes.

6. Refrigerate pots de crème for at least 3 hours, before serving.