Heat the oven to 356°F (180 °C). Prepare about 8 creme caramel forms.
Set aside half the sugar for the caramel. Put it in a thick-bottomed pot with a little water, just to moisten, and put it on moderate heat to caramelize. It's going to take some time for the water to evaporate completely and for the sugar to gain a light golden color. Take off the stove as soon as this happens and distribute into the forms. Leave to cool.
Beat all of the eggs in a bowl with a whisk, add the remaining sugar and seeds of the vanilla pod. Beat to the point where they're well mixed. Heat the milk with the seeds from the pod and the pod itself, chopped into pieces, and add them in lots to the eggs while stirring nonstop, to prevent curdling.
Strain through a strainer, distribute into the forms. Arrange in a tray and bake in a water bath - pour water up to 1 finger width below the rim of the forms.
Bake at 320°F (160 °C) for exactly 40 min. Take them out of the oven and out of the forms. Then leave to cool in the fridge for at least 2 days.
Upon serving, press carefully with your fingers along the edges of the forms to unstick the cream and invert into a suitable plate.
Source: MasterChef J. Mielle
Notes: The most important thing in baking this creme is that it needs to bake at exactly 320°F (160 °C) for 40 min., no more, no less. It needs to look glassy, it must never have burnt bubbles - this is considered a mistake and you'll never see a creme caramel with such ever served in restaurants.
Bake in tall metal creme caramel forms.
"The black seeds from the vanilla pods need to be visible, it's indicative of natural vanilla, highly prized by French chefs, " shares J. Mielle.