|For meringue and custard|
|Light cream||2 1⁄4 Cup (36 tbs)|
|Vanilla bean||2 Inch|
|Sugar||2⁄3 Cup (10.67 tbs)|
|Water||1⁄3 Cup (5.33 tbs)|
With a wire whisk or a rotary or electric beater, beat the egg whites.
As soon as they are frothy, add 1/2 cup of the sugar.
Then continue to beat until the meringue is stiff enough to stand in unwavering peaks on the beater when it is lifted from the bowl.
In a heavy 8- to 10-inch skillet, heat 2 cups of cream and the vanilla bean over low heat.
When small bubbles begin to form around the sides of the pan, reduce the heat to the lowest point.
To form each "island" scoop up the meringue in one dessert spoon and invert another dessert spoon over it to shape the meringue into an oval.
Slide the meringue off the spoon onto the surface of the simmering cream.
Make similar ovals of the remaining meringue.
Simmer the meringues uncovered for 2 minutes, turn them over gently with a slotted spoon and cook for 1 or 2 minutes longer, or until they are just firm to the touch.
Do not overcook the meringues, or they might disintegrate.
Transfer the meringues to a kitchen towel to drain and let them cool to room temperature.
Strain the cream through a fine sieve, measure it and add enough more cream to make 2 cups.
Return the vanilla bean and set the cream aside.
Combine the egg yolks and 2/3 cup of sugar in a heavy 2- to 3-quart saucepan and beat them together with a wire whisk.
Whisking the mixture constantly, pour in the cream in a slow, thin stream.
Add the vanilla bean and place the pan over low heat.
Stir gently with a spoon until the custard coats the spoon heavily.
Do not let the custard come anywhere near a boil or it will curdle.
Strain the custard through a fine sieve into a bowl, discarding the vanilla bean.
Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate the custard for 3 to 4 hours to chill it thoroughly.
About half an hour before serving, prepare the caramel.
Combine 2/3 cup of sugar and 1/3 cup of water in a small heavy pan and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
Boil the syrup over moderate heat, gently tipping the pan back and forth until the syrup turns a tealike brown.
This may take 10 minutes or more.
Immediately remove the pan from the heat and pour the caramel into a bowl.
Arrange the meringues on top of the custard and, when the caramel is lukewarm, dribble it over them with a small spoon.
To serve, ladle the meringues onto individual dessert plates and spoon custard around them.