Put the raisins in a small bowl, cover with rum, cover with plastic wrap, and let steep overnight
When you're ready to prepare the dessert, start by splitting the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Put 1 tablespoon of sugar in a small bowl. With the sharp side of a paring knife, scrape the seeds out of the center of the bean and into the sugar. Mush it
Pour the cream into a double boiler, and whisk in the spiced sugar. Add the vanilla bean pod, too. Heat until the mixture is about 180°F, whisking often.
While the cream is heating, beat the egg yolks in a medium-sized mixing bowl with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and pale yellow.
When the cream has reached 180°F, remove the top of the double boiler and put it next to the egg mixture. Take about 1/2 cup of the cream and whisk it slowly into the egg mixture. Follow with a second 1/2 cup. If your double boiler is big enough, slowly p
Melinda divides this into six large (16-ounce) custard cups to make very large servings. If you want something more diminutive, use 10-ounce cups or even smaller 4- or 6-ounce cups. This is a rich dessert, and a little goes a long way.
Whichever size you choose, divide the raisins and put them in the bottom of the cups. Put bread cubes over these to make one layer. Sprinkle any remaining rum over the bread cubes. (The nutrition information at the end of this recipe is based on 6-ounce c
Find a baking or roasting pan(s) that's large enough to hold all the cups, and place them in the pan. Carefully pour the custard into the cups, filling them equally. You can get pretty close to the top, as it won't expand in the oven. Let the bread and cu
Just before serving, sprinkle between 1 and 2 tablespoons brown sugar over the top of each custard. Heat under a broiler until the sugar has melted (watch closely, because it can burn very quickly) or, if you have access to one, gently use a blow torch to
This is ambrosial as is, but you can gild the lily with a bit of whipped cream. (At this point you're so far over the top, fat-gram-wise, that you might as well slide all the way down the other side.)