Make the custards a day or two ahead, and broil them just before serving to produce a crackly topping.
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
3 large egg yolks
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
How to Make It
Heat cream and sugar over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, 3 to 4 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Stir in vanilla bean, basil, and thyme. Bring mixture to a simmer, and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes.
Whisk in egg yolks. Pour mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl, discarding herbs. Pour mixture evenly into 2 (6-oz.) ramekins; place ramekins in an 11- x 7-inch baking dish. Add hot water to pan to a depth of 1/2 inch.
Bake at 275° for 35 minutes or until almost set. Remove from water bath, and let stand 30 minutes; cover and chill at least 3 hours.
Sprinkle 1 1/4 tsp. sugar evenly over each custard. Broil, 5 inches from heat, 3 minutes or until sugar is browned. Serve immediately.