Split each vanilla bean lengthwise. Place cream in a medium heavy-bottomed pan, scrape vanilla bean seeds into the cream (use a sharp-tipped knife) then add the beans and heat until bubbles begin to form at edges of the pan. Remove from heat and let stand 30 minutes to infuse the cream with the vanilla flavor.
Beat egg yolks with sugar until pale and thick. Strain cream and vanilla with a fine sieve and pour into egg yolk mixture. Cook, without boiling, over low heat until mixture thickens and coats the back of a metal spoon. Remove from heat and divide evenly among 6 large ramekins or custard cups. Cover and refrigerate 3 hours, until set.
Prior to serving, sprinkle remaining sugar evenly over custards and brown with a kitchen torch or under the oven broiler. Refrigerate until serving.
Our favorite dish for creme brulee prep is the the low, flat, quiche dish like the one shown. We prefer this dish because you get the perfect ratio of custard to crunchy sugar topping. Otherwise you can use small ramekins.