In a heavy saucepan, combine the cream and the vanilla bean with its scrapings. Over low heat, bring to a boil and turn off heat. In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Place over a pan of simmering water and continue to whisk vigorously until mixture becomes a very pale yellow and feels hot to the touch.
Remove from heat and turn the cream up to high. It will come to a boil quickly because its already hot. Pour the boiling cream into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Place the bowl over a larger bowl half-filled with ice cubes. Stir occasionally until cool. Strain through a fine strainer and refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.
In a small saucepan, combine l cup cream with butter and heat until butter melts and cream is hot. Keep warm.
Spoon the corn syrup into a medium deep saucepan and top with the sugar. On medium heat, cook until mixture turns a deep amber color and temperature reaches 225 degrees on a candy thermometer, stirring often with a wooden spoon. As the mixture turns golden, check the thermometer often. Immediately remove pan from heat and pour cream mixture into the sugar, stirring to combine well. Mixture will bubble up as you pour, so be careful not to burn yourself. Stir in remaining l/4 cup cream. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a heatproof bowl. If not using the sauce immediately, let cool and refrigerate, covered, until needed. This will keep for weeks in the refrigerator.
Yield: l l/2 cups
Thaw one package of frozen puff pastry sheets or use homemade puff pastry. Cut out circles of puff pastry to fit into a six-inch tartlette pan. Line the pans with the dough and trim excess. Prick a few holes in the bottom of the dough so it wont rise too much. Place cut out pieces of parchment paper or coffee filters onto the dough and fill with pie weights. Blind bake the shells until done. You can lift the parchment paper to make sure it is baked thoroughly. Let the shells cool completely before filling.
Slice a few strawberries and lay them down on the bottom of each shell. Place a few raspberries or blueberries in the shell. Pour enough of the Brulee cream into the shell to reach the top. Repeat with remaining shells. Refrigerate the tarts until set, about 3 hours.
Remove from the refrigerator and sprinkle each tart with a little granulated sugar. Using a propane torch, caramelize the sugar. Serve on a dessert plate with Caramel Sauce or a few extra berries.
Recipe courtesy of Mary Bergin