- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 1 bunch fresh mint
- 4 large egg yolks
- ¼ cup sugar, plus another ¼ cup for the topping
- ¼ teaspoon fine salt
- ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
- Crushed candy canes, for garnish
- Fresh mint leaves, for garnish
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325°F. Place four 6-oz ramekins in a large roasting ban or baking dish. Spray lightly with cooking spray or brush lightly with melted butter.
- Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with the back of your knife. Place the seeds and bean into a medium saucepan and add the cream, half-and-half, and fresh mint. Place the pot over medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer, being careful not to let the mixture boil. Simmer for 5 minutes and then remove from the heat.
- Allow the cream to cool for 10 more minutes. Meanwhile, bring a large kettle of water to a boil.
- Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and salt in a large bowl until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is pale yellow and beginning to thicken. Discard the vanilla bean and fresh mint leaves and then pour the warm cream mixture into the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly. Whisk in the peppermint extract.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared ramekins. Fill the roasting pan with enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the custards are set in the center. Carefully remove the hot ramekins from the water bath and transfer to a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator and allow to set, uncovered, for at least 2 hours (or up to a couple days).
- About 30 minutes before you are ready to serve, sprinkle the tops of the custards with enough sugar to lightly coat the surface. Tilt the ramekins to evenly distribute the sugar and tap out the excess. Using a kitchen torch (or your broiler!), heat the sugar until it turns a deep amber color. Return the custards to the fridge until you are ready to serve. Garnish with the crushed candy canes and additional mint leaves just before serving.