Classic Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée Recipe

  • 2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
  • 4-inch piece vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Cognac (optional)
  • 6 tablespoons oven-dried brown sugar or granulated sugar for topping
  1. Pour the cream into a medium saucepan, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the cream, and add the vanilla pod. Place over medium heat until small bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Remove the vanilla pod and scrape any remaining seeds into the cream.
  2. Preheat the oven to 275°F.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until pale in color. Whisk in the 1/3 cup granulated sugar until dissolved. Gradually whisk in the cream. Stir in the Cognac, if desired.
  4. Place six standard-size flan dishes in a baking pan. Divide the custard mixture among the dishes. Pour warm water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the dishes. Bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the center of each custard still jiggles slightly. Remove from the oven and lift the dishes from the hot water. Let cool briefly, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
  5. When ready to serve, place the dishes on a baking sheet. Evenly sprinkle 1 tablespoon brown or granulated sugar over each custard. Using a hand-held blowtorch, caramelize the sugar.