2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
3/4 cup nonfat dry milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/2 cup sugar, divided
4 large egg yolks
Dash of salt
Combine the first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan. Heat mixture over medium heat to 180? or until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil), stirring occasionally. Remove milk mixture from heat. Cover and steep 30 minutes.
Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into milk mixture; reserve bean for another use.
Preheat oven to 300?.
Combine 1/4 cup sugar, egg yolks, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Gradually add milk mixture to egg yolk mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Strain mixture through a sieve into a bowl; discard solids.
Divide the mixture evenly among 4 (4-ounce) ramekins, custard cups, or shallow baking dishes. Place ramekins in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan; add hot water to pan to a depth of 1 inch.
Bake at 300? for 25 minutes or until center barely moves when ramekin is touched. Remove ramekins from the pan; cool completely on a wire rack.
Cover and chill at least 4 hours or overnight.
Sift 1 tablespoon sugar evenly over each custard. Holding a kitchen blow torch about 2 inches from the top of each custard, heat the sugar, moving the torch back and forth, until sugar is completely melted and caramelized (about 1 minute).
Serve cr?me br?l?e immediately or within 1 hour.
To prevent skins from forming while the custards cool, gently press plastic wrap to the top of each.