In addition to vanilla products such as extracts and pastes, the vanilla bean itself can be used to flavor dishes prepared at home. Using a paring knife, split the bean lengthwise, and scrape the seeds from both sides of the pod.
You may substitute 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla paste instead of the bean, vanilla bean powder, and extract. Eliminate the bean, powder, and extract and add vanilla bean paste to the cooled custard mixture before baking.
Combine cream, sugar, and vanilla bean in a heavy saucepan and bring to scalding point. Remove from heat, and allow to cool slightly. Beat egg yolks in a stainless steel bowl. Combine with cream mixture, and allow to cool several hours or in refrigerator overnight.
Remove the vanilla bean and scrape seeds into the cream mixture. Add ground vanilla bean powder and extract. Pour cream mixture into 6 ounce ramekins or a shallow 2 quart casserole. Place in a larger baking dish. Fill dish with hot water so that water comes halfway up custard container's sides. Bake at 350 degrees until a knife inserted 1 inch from edge of custard comes out clean (center will be soft), about 25 - 30 minutes, depending on containers.
Remove custard from water bath and allow to cool, then cover and refrigerate overnight.
To serve, cover custards with an even 1/4 inch layer of vanilla sugar. Using a kitchen torch, heat sugar topping until it caramelizes and becomes hard. Serve immediately, as is or with fresh berries on top.