Up to 36 hours ahead - put the split vanilla pod and cream in a
heavy saucepan and gently bring to
simmering point. Whisk as soon as the
first bubbles start to rise, then remove
the pan from the heat and leave to
infuse for about 20 minutes.
Fish out a half-pod from the cream and
hold it over the pan, then use the tip of a
small knife to scrape the black seeds
inside into the pan. Repeat with the other
pod, then whisk to disperse the seeds.
Meanwhile,whizz the egg yolks and
sugar in a food processor for 2-3 minutes
until thick and creamy. Scrape the mixture
into the cream and stir to combine. Place
the pan over a medium heat and gently
whisk constantly until the custard has
thickened considerably and is on the
point of boiling (when the first few
bubbles break through the surface).
Immediately remove the pan from the
heat and plunge the base into a sink of
ice-cold water. Continue to gently whisk
for 1-2 minutes, or until most of the heat
has dissipated. Leave to cool, whisking
occasionally to prevent a skin forming.
Meanwhile, place six little heatproof
dishes, about 10cm in diameter and
2.5cm deep (see tip), on a tray that will fit
in the fridge. Divide the blackberries
among them, then cover with the cool
custard and chill until firmly set. Loosely
drape with cling film over to cover.
An hour or so before serving - if you don’t have a blow torch to brûlée
the custard, use a very hot grill. Sprinkle
a thin, even layer of sugar over each dish
then, if using a blow torch, carefully
‘burn’ the sugar, starting on the nearest
side: the sugar will bubble and turn a dark
caramel. Wait for a few minutes for the
surface to harden before serving but DO
NOT be tempted to touch as the sugar
remains blisteringly hot for some while.
Alternatively, put the ramekins on a
baking sheet close to the grill until the
sugar caramelises. Keep them cool until
ready to serve, but not in the fridge or the
caramel will soften.