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1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 (1/4-ounce) envelopes unflavored gelatin
2/3 cups cold water
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups milk
2 vanilla beans, slit and scraped or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Whip the heavy cream until it forms soft peaks. Do not allow it to form stiff peaks. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Soak the gelatin in cold water for 10 minutes.

Place a fine mesh strainer inside a medium-sized bowl. Fill a larger bowl with ice water. Set each aside.

Pour the milk into a medium saucepan. If using vanilla bean, slit them open and scrape the seeds into the milk adding the entire pod into the milk as well. If using vanilla extract add after the creme is cooked.

Bring the milk to a boil. Remove from the heat and allow the flavor of the bean to infuse into the milk for approximately 30 minutes.

Remove the bean from the milk and reheat the milk mixture. Set aside.

Whisk the eggs and sugar together until thickened and a pale yellow color.

Add a 1/4 cup of the hot milk to the egg mixture, stirring constantly to temper the yolks and then add the tempered yolks to the milk in the saucepan. Cook over very low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened.

Pour the custard through the mesh strainer into the medium sized bowl. Remove strainer; add the softened gelatin and whisk until the gelatin is dissolved. (If using vanilla extract, add it now.)

Place the bowl inside the larger bowl filled with ice water. Stir the mixture until it begins to cool and just begins to thicken.

Fold in the whipped cream. Use as desired or pour into large mold, smaller molds or serving bowl, chill until firm and unmold by placing in hot water for 15 seconds


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