Vanilla Custard Sauce:
Heat 1/2 cup milk and 1 vanilla bean, twisted to bruise and release essence, but not split, in a small saucepan to just below boiling. Remove from heat and allow to stand, covered, for 10 minutes. While milk is steeping, whisk together 3 egg yolks and 3 tablespoons sugar. Remove the vanilla bean, and slowly whisk hot milk into the yolk mixture. Transfer back to the saucepan and return to heat. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the custard coats the back of a spoon (do not boil). Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup heavy cream. Pour through a fine mesh sieve and stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons brandy or bourbon (if desired), 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Cool slightly, then cover and chill.