Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

  2. Pour the cream into a 1-quart saucepan, and heat the cream just until it almost comes to a boil. Remove it from the heat.

  3. Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks until the sugar dissolves.

  4. Add the hot cream a little at a time; mix well.

  5. Stir in the vanilla bean paste.

  6. Pour the custard through a fine sieve or strainer, and pour it into four heart molds, or 1/2-cup capacity ramekins about 2" tall.

  7. Place the molds or ramekins in a large baking pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the dishes.

  8. Bake until the custard is set but still a bit jiggly in the center, about 30 minutes.

  9. Remove the dishes from the water and let cool completely. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, or up to overnight; no need to cover.

  10. To serve, sprinkle the sugar evenly over the custards. For easiest caramelizing, run a torch evenly over the tops of the custards until the sugar is a deep golden brown. Or caramelize the sugar by placing molds or ramekins under your oven's broiler; watch carefully, as a broiler element can turn sugar from browned to burned quickly.