Because the drying and sweating of vanilla pods is done by hand, the spice is the second most expensive in the world, after saffron.
In March a cyclone hit Madagascar – where it is grown – causing prices to rocket. But this classic créme caramel is simply not the same without it.
85g caster sugar
2 egg yolks
1 vanilla pod
100ml double cream
1. Heat the sugar and water gently in a saucepan to make a caramel.
2. Pour the caramel into six ramekins.
3. Whisk the eggs, yolks and sugar together.
4. Split the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds into a saucepan.
5. Add the milk and cream to the saucepan and the pod itself.
6. Bring to the boil and remove from the heat. Allow to stand for 10 minutes.
7. Remove the pod and whisk the vanilla milk into the egg mixture.
8. Pour into ramekins and place them into a tray with 1cm depth of water in.
9. Bake in an oven 150C/Gas 3 on the lower shelf for about 40 minutes until the custard is set but wobbly.
10. Allow to cool and put into a fridge for at least four hours.
11. Turn out into bowls to serve.