Recipe by The Communal TablePhotography by Celeste NocheFood Styling by Jenni Grishman

Split the vanilla bean in half lenghthwise and scrape the seeds into the cream. Put the scraped out pod into the cream, too. In a medium saucepan, heat the cream and vanilla until it just comes to a simmer with bubbles welling up around the sides. Turn off the heat and let stand for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 325°F, and get your cooking set-up ready by placing eight 4-ounce ramekins in a roasting pan, and setting it aside.

Whisk the egg yolks a few times, then add ¾ cup of granulated sugar and whisk until the mixture is pale yellow and viscous. Slowly pour a ladleful of the warm cream mixture in and whisk until combined. Now pour the rest of the cream into the yolk mixture slowly, while whisking all the while. When it is well blended, pour through a fine mesh strainer into a pitcher. Stir in the salt.

Pour the custard into the ramekins and carefully place it in the oven. Pour hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the whole pan with foil and cook for about a half-hour. When you pull them out, they should giggle like Jello. If they are still too liquid, put them back in the oven in 3 to 5 minutes increments until they are the right consistency, keeping in mind it’s better to air on the side of a little underdone, rather than too cooked. Pull the roasting pan out of the oven and place the ramekins on a kitchen towel to cool at room temperature for two hours. Transfer to an airtight container and put in the fridge to cool completely, at least 4 hours, or overnight.

When you’re ready to serve, mix the demerara sugar and the remaining granulated sugar together. Put about 2 teaspoons of the sugar mixture on each custard and torch by waving the blue flame over the top of the custard while kind of spinning it around. I find that the closer the flame is to the custard, the better.

If you don’t have a torch, simply place the ramekins on a baking sheet and put under the broiler for a few minutes, but don’t walk away because they will caramelize quickly.

Serve immediately after torching with a few fresh berries or a little plate of cookies. Savor with delight and gratitude.


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