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1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the side of a 2-quart souffle dish*. For a collar on the souffle dish, measure enough foil to wrap around top of the dish and add 3 inches. Fold the foil into thirds lengthwise. Lightly butter one side of foil; sprinkle with sugar. Place foil, sugar side in, around the outside of the dish so the foil extends about 2 inches above the dish. Tape ends of foil together. Sprinkle inside of dish with sugar; set aside.
2. In a small saucepan combine half-and-half and, if using, vanilla bean. Cook until bubbly around edge, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Remove vanilla bean; cool slightly. Using a small sharp knife, split vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out seeds. Stir vanilla seeds (or the 1 tablespoon vanilla, if using) into half-in-half.
3. In another small saucepan heat the 1/4 cup butter over medium heat until melted. Stir in flour. Add half-and-half mixture. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat (mixture will be thick). Gradually whisk hot mixture into egg yolks; set aside.
4. In a large bowl combine egg whites and the 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form (tips curl). Gradually add the 1/2 cup sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high speed until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Gently fold egg yolk mixture into beaten egg whites. Transfer to prepared souffle dish. Place souffle dish in a 15x10x1-inch baking pan.
5. Bake on lowest oven rack for 40 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean. Serve immediately with Vanilla Custard Sauce.
1. Allow ice cream to stand, covered, in the refrigerator about 3 hours or until it reaches pouring consistency. Before serving, stir in vanilla. Makes about 1 cup.