- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 6 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 vanilla bean
- raw sugar for caramelizing tops
- 1 Anjou pear
- 2 tablespoons pear brandy
- Split vanilla bean and combine in a small saucepan with heavy cream. Flavor with optional ingredients (see Variations). Cook over medium heat until steam rises.
- In a stainless steel bowl whisk egg yolks; add sugar and mix until combined. Whisk hot cream lightly into egg mixture, taking care not to incorporate air into the mixture. Skim off foam and strain mixture into a large glass measuring cup.
- Add brandy to strained mixture.
- Pour custard mixture into six 4 ounce ramekins. (If making raspberry variation, place raspberries into ramekins and top with custard mixture.) Bake in water bath in preheated 350 degree oven until set, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove ramekins from water bath and chill well, preferably overnight.
- Cut pear into thin slices. Place 3 slices on top of each chilled ramekin (dry top of ramekin with a paper towel if needed).
- To caramelize tops, sprinkle with a fine layer of raw sugar. Use a torch to caramelize tops, or pack ramekins in shallow pan of ice and place under broiler to caramelize. For heavier brulee, repeat with a second layer of sugar and torch again.
For lemon, omit vanilla bean and add zest of 1 lemon plus juice of 1/2 lemon. For chocolate, add 1 ounce of chopped semisweet chocolate. For coconut, add 1/2 cup flaked coconut extract or 2 teaspoons Malibu coconut rum (add rum after the yolks and sugar). For raspberry, you’ll need 40 to 50 raspberries. For coffee, add 2 tablespoons instant coffee.