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Creme Brulee

5 large whole eggs
4 large egg yolks
1/2 c granulated sugar
3 c half-and-half
1 c heavy cream
a 2-inch piece of vanilla bean
1/4 c firmly packed light brown sugar

In a bowl whisk together the whole eggs, the yolks, and the granulated
sugar, add the half-and-half and the cream, scalded with the vanilla
bean, in a slow stream, stirring, and strain the mixture through
a fine sieve into a 1-1/2 quart flameproof shallow baking dish.
Set the dish in an ovenproof skillet or baking pan( the smaller
the skillet or pan the better), add enough hot water to the skillet
to reach halfway up the sides of the dish, and bake the custard in
the middle of a preheated 325 F oven for 40 minutes, or until a
tester inserted close to the edge comes out clean. Remove the dish
from the skillet, let the custard cool completely in the dish on
a rack at room temperature, and chill it, covered, for at least 3
hours. The custard may be made one day in advance and kept covered
and chilled.

Sift the brown sugar over the custard, covering it completely, put
it under a preheated broiler about 6 inches from the heat, turning
the dish occassionally, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the sugar is
melted and caramelized, and chill the creme brulee for 10 minutes
before serving it. Serves 8.


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