1 quart heavy cream 1/2 vanilla bean or 1 tsp. vanilla extract 1/2 cup sugar 10 egg yolks Pinch salt
For the caramel topping: 1/2 cup sugar
1T dried lavender to steep (optional)
Heat the oven to 325°F. Heat the cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat until scalded (you'll see small bubbles on the sides of the pan). Split the vanilla bean in half, if using, and scrape the seeds into the cream. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, slowly whisk the sugar into the egg yolks. Slowly whisk the hot cream/milk into the sugar/yolk mixture. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a pitcher or measuring cup. Stir in the salt and vanilla extract, if using.
Arrange eight 6-oz. ramekins in a baking dish with deep sides. Pour the custard into the ramekins, fill the baking dish with water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins and cover the dish with foil.
Bake until just set, 25 to 50 min. Be sure to start checking early; baking time will depend on the thickness and depth of your ramekins and baking dish. Carefully remove the baking dish from the oven and let the ramekins cool in the water bath. Remove, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
Sift a thin, even layer of sugar over the refrigerated custards, ignite the torch, and with a slow, sweeping motion, guide the flame directly on the surface of the custard. The
nozzle should be 2 to 3 inches from the surface, with the tip of the flame licking the sugar. The sugar will melt slowly at first and then caramelize. As soon as the entire
surface is glossy brown, move on to the next custard.
For Coconut Creme Brulee
Substitute coconut cream for heavy cream. Do not use coconut milk, it will be too watery.