½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 cups heavy cream ½ cup sugar 5 egg yolks 1 teaspoon vanilla extract pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 325°F.
To make the caramel, stir ½ cup sugar and water in a medium heavy saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil, occasionally swirling pan until caramel is medium-dark amber, 6-7 minutes. Working quickly, divide caramel among 4 ramekins, coating bottoms evenly. Let cool until hard.
In a saucepot over medium high heat, heat the cream, vanilla and salt. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk ½ cup sugar and egg yolks together. Gradually and gently whisk the cream mixture into the eggs, a little at a time to combine making sure the sugar has dissolved. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve set over a medium pitcher. Let stand for 5 minutes to eliminate bubbles.
Place ramekins in a roasting pan and divide custard among ramekins. Pour hot water into roasting pan to reach a little more than halfway up sides of ramekins. Cover pan with foil and transfer to oven; cook for 25 minutes.
Bake until centers of flans are gently set, about 30 minutes. Transfer flans to rack and cool. Chill until cold, about 2 hours. Cover and chill overnight. To serve, run small sharp knife around flan to loosen. Turn over onto plate. Shake gently to release flan. Carefully lift off ramekin allowing caramel syrup to run over flan. Repeat with remaining flans and serve.