½ cup granulated sugar, plus more to sprinkle for topping
1½ tsp. vanilla extract or one vanilla bean
optional: fresh berries or mint for garnish
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Whisk together the egg yolks and ½ cup sugar in a medium mixing bowl until smooth and creamy. Add cream and vanilla and gently stir to combine, taking care not to mix quickly so as not to introduce extra bubbles. Place un-filled ramekins in a baking or casserole dish and fill baking dish with hot water until about half-way up sides of ramekins. Pour egg mixture into ramekins.
Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, checking every 10 minutes after 35-40 minutes. When done, a knife inserted into the center of the egg mixture should come out mostly clean.
Remove from baking dish (I use a spatula) and lay onto clean dish towel to dry, set and cool. Allow to sit for 15 minutes.
Set oven to low broiler setting.
Sprinkle a thin, even layer of granulated sugar over the top of the cooked custard. Completely, but lightly, cover the custard with the sugar. Place the ramekins back into the baking dish and surround by ice and cold water until the water almost reaches halfway up the sides (don't fill too high with water, as the ice will melt and add to the volume of water).
Place baking dish with ramekins under broiler (or use crème brûlée torch, if you'd prefer) for 3-5 minutes, or until the sugar has melted and creates a golden brown, caramelized crust.
Garnish with berries and/or some fresh mint leaves.