Separate eggs and place yolks in a glass bowl. Add sugar and vanilla extract, stir to combine. Pour cream in a sauce pan and heat until it starts to boil, remove from heat. Pour 1 cup of the hot cream into the egg mixture and whisk to combine. Continue to add cream, one cup at a time to the egg mixture until it is all combined, whisking with each addition. This is called tempering the eggs. If you add all the cream at one time the eggs may scramble.
Place 8 shallow baking cups on a sheet pan. Pour the custard filling into shallow "creme brûlée" baking cups.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Place the pan in the center of the oven. Pour enough water in the baking pan so it comes halfway up the sides of the baking cups. Bake for 30 minutes with the blower off.
Do not brown creme brûlée or allow them to rise. Carefully remove the creme brulee from the oven, be careful the pan still has water in it. Remove creme brûlée from water and cool at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Refrigerate overnight or at least long enough to chill thoroughly and set.
Lightly cover the top of the custard with granulated sugar. Use a small torch to caramelize the sugar. For those of you who are torchless... try using the broiler on your oven.
After browning the sugar:
Place the creme brûlée back in the fridge for 5 minutes to allow sugar to cool and harden before serving.
*You may use one vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract. Split a vanilla bean, scrape out seeds and add to the cream along with the remaining bean pod. Be sure to remove the vanilla bean pod before adding to the egg mixture.
8 egg yolks
1 quart whipping cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1 ounce vanilla extract
Sugar for the tops