Creme brulee made the old-fashioned way using the stove-top and oven seems like such a chore when you can make it more quickly and easily (but with equally delicious results!) in an Instant Pot®. No need to worry about curdled eggs here either because cooking on low pressure for just eight minutes yields a perfectly set custard every time.
a 6- or 8- quart Instant Pot® multi-cooker; four 4-ounce heat-safe ramekins (each about 3 inches in diameter)
Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise using a paring knife, then use the back of the knife to scrape out the seeds. Reserving the pod, put the seeds and cream into a small saucepan. Whisk to combine, then set over medium heat and cook until tiny bubbles just start to form around the edges, about 5 minutes, whisking occasionally. Pour the mixture into a medium bowl and allow to cool for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the reserved vanilla-bean pod and 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a small bowl. Use your fingers to rub the pod and sugar together to remove the residual vanilla seeds and distribute them evenly throughout the sugar. Set the vanilla sugar aside.
Whisk the remaining 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar and the salt into the cream mixture until combined and the mixture is completely cool. Whisk in the egg yolks until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve set over a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. This will help achieve a silky smooth result.
Divide the mixture among four 4-ounce heat-proof ramekins (each about 3 inches in diameter) and cover the tops tightly with foil.
Pour 1 cup water in the bottom of a 6- or 8- quart Instant Pot®. Place the steamer rack in the pot and arrange the ramekins in a snug single layer on the rack. Follow the manufacturer's guide for locking the lid and preparing to cook. Set the pot to pressure cook on low for 8 minutes (see Cook's Note).
After the pressure cook cycle is complete, follow the manufacturer's guide for natural release. After 15 minutes, being careful of any remaining steam, unlock and remove the lid.
Remove the foil from the ramekins and allow to cool for 20 minutes. Then refrigerate until completely cooled and set, at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
When ready to serve, sprinkle the top of the desserts with the vanilla sugar (discard the vanilla-bean pod or add to more sugar for future use). Use a kitchen torch to melt the sugar and turn it a deep golden brown. (Alternately, heat the ramekins under the broiler, watching carefully.) Let sit at room temperature until the sugar has hardened, about 5 minutes.
Settings may vary on your Instant Pot® depending on the model. Please refer to manufacturer's guide.
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