- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 egg yolks
- 8 tablespoons raw sugar, divided
Preheat oven to 300°F. In a large saucepan, bring cream just to a simmer and immediately remove from heat. Add vanilla. Add chocolate, if using. Whisk until chocolate is completely melted.
In a separate bowl, or with a mixer, whisk egg yolks and sugar until yolks are pale yellow and sugar is dissolved. Ladle 1/4 of hot cream mixture into yolk mixture and whisk. Add that mixture to the rest of the hot cream mixture while whisking.
In a 9x13-inch baking dish, arrange ramekins (1/2-cup capacity). Ladle mixture evenly into ramekins. Fill baking dish with warm water until it reaches half way up sides of ramekins.
Bake 35-45 minutes or until custard is set and just quivers when lightly touched. Remove from oven. Refrigerate ramekins at least two hours (overnight if possible).
To serve, move rack to top of oven and preheat broiler for 20 minutes. Sprinkle each ramekin with 1 tablespoon raw sugar. Place on a baking sheet under broiler. Watch carefully - let sugar melt and begin to caramelize. When golden, remove from oven.
Or, use a kitchen torch to melt and evenly caramelize sugar. Let stand for two minutes to allow sugar to harden and ramekin to cool.
If you like a firmer custard, add 1-2 more egg yolks.