You can use 2 teaspoons vanilla extract for the vanilla bean. If you use the vanilla extract, heat only the whipping cream just until warm. Don't cook until simmering or let stand for 15 minutes. Add vanilla extract to warm cream.
vanilla bean, split lengthwise or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, see note
eggs yolks, lightly beaten
fresh raspberries or sliced small fresh strawberries
fresh raspberries or strawberries, optional
Preheat oven to 325°. In a small heavy pan mix cream and vanilla bean. Cook over medium low heat about 15 minutes or until mixture just starts to simmer, stirring frequently but do not boil. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes to infuse cream with vanilla flavor. Remove vanilla bean; discard or reserve for another use.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl mix egg yolks and sugar. Beat with a wire whisk just until mixture is thick and lemon colored. Gradually whisk warm cream into egg mixture.
Place eight ramekins each 4 ounces or six custard cups each 6 ounces, in a 13 x 9" baking dish. Divide the 3/4 cup berries among ramekins. Divide cream mixture evenly among ramekins. Place baking dish on oven rack. Pour hot water into baking dish to reach halfway up sides of ramekins.
Bake about one hour or until a knife inserted near center's comes out clean. Remove ramekins from water; cool on a wire rack. Cover and chill for 1 to 8 hours. If desired, garnish with additional berries. Makes 6 to 8 servings.