Combine the first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan. Heat mixture over medium heat to 180° or until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil), stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Cover and steep 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325°.
Combine 1/2 cup sugar, egg yolks, and eggs in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Strain milk mixture through a sieve into egg mixture, stirring well with a whisk. Stir in vanilla. Return mixture to pan. Cook over medium-low heat 5 minutes or until mixture coats a spoon.
Divide the mixture evenly among 4 (6-ounce) ramekins. Place ramekins in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan; add hot water to pan to a depth of 1 inch.
Bake at 325° for 30 minutes or until center barely moves when ramekin is touched. Remove ramekins from pan; cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and chill at least 1 hour or overnight.
Sift 2 tablespoons sugar evenly over custards. Holding a kitchen blowtorch about 2 inches from the top of each custard, heat the sugar, moving the torch back and forth, until sugar is completely melted and caramelized (for about 1 minute). Serve immediately.