Vanilla is a great flavor, especially if it's the real thing...
This little dessert has a rich, robust, and luxe vanilla flavor, but in a very concentrated dose.
Plain, simple, beautiful.
Adapted from Jol Robuchon's version
Petit Vanille Pots de Crème
1/2 c whole milk
1 c heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean (cut across the bean, save the other half for later)
1/3 c sugar
3 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
1/2 t vanilla
Rinse a medium saucepan under cold running water and empty, but DO NOT DRY.
Cut the half vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Place the milk, cream, vanilla seeds, and empty vanilla pod in the saucepan. Heat the mixture until almost boiling, remove from the heat and cover. Leave alone to infuse 30 minutes.
Place the yolks and sugar in a bowl and beat until broken up. Whisk constantly and slowly pour in the vanilla milk, a little bit at first to help "loosen" the thick yolk and sugar mixture. Pour the mixture through a strainer, remove the bean (rinse, let dry, and save for later... perhaps place in a sugar bowl or shaker to flavor), and add the vanilla extract. Let the mixture rest 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Divide the mixture among 5 ramekins, and place the ramekins in a 9x13 inch dish. Pour boiling water into the pan halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Cover the whole pan with plastic wrap and bake about 25 minutes (the custards should be jiggly). Remove the ramekins from the water, cool at room temperature, cover individually with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
Serve well chilled.