3 1/3 cups whole milk
3 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
8 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
- Preheat the oven to 325°. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk and vanilla beans and bring to a bare simmer over high heat. Remove the pan from the heat, cover and let the mixture steep for 15 minutes.
- In a heatproof medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until thick. Bring the milk back to a simmer and whisk it into the egg yolks in a thin stream. Strain the custard through a fine sieve set over a bowl. Let stand for 2 to 3 minutes, then skim off the foam.
- Set eight 1/2-cup ramekins in a large baking pan. Fill the ramekins three-quarters full with the custard. Pour enough hot water into the baking pan to reach about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the baking pan loosely with aluminum foil and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the custard is just set at the edge but still trembling in the center.
- Remove the baking pan from the oven. Carefully lift the ramekins out of the pan and let cool at room temperature. Cover loosely and refrigerate, for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. Serve the custards well chilled in the ramekins.
Any good, sweet regional French wine would be fine here. Try a Loupiac, a Ste-Croix-du-Mont, a Monbazillac or, of course, a Sauternes.