Adjust oven rack to the lower middle position and preheat to 300°F. Fold a clean kitchen towel in half and place in the bottom of a 13x9-inch baking pan. Set 3 or 4 (5 to 6 ounce) ramekins on the towel. Set aside.
Put a tea kettle on to boil. Once hot remove from the heat and keep warm.
Pour the cream into a medium saucepan. Add the split vanilla bean along with any seeds and pulp. Heat over medium-high until the mixture just starts to boil. Remove from the heat, cover and steep for 15 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean leaving any beans and pulp in the pan. Rinse the vanilla bean and save for other uses or discard.
Whisk the egg yolks in a medium mixing bowl until blended. Slowly whisk in half the sugar (1/4 cup or 55g) and salt. Once all sugar is added, whisk vigorously until the mixture starts to lighten and thickens slightly.
Slowly drizzle in the warm cream a little at a time while whisking continuously to temper the eggs. Keep whisking until all cream is incorporated.
Pour the custard through a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl or container with a spout. Discard any solids.
Carefully pour the custard mixture into the prepared ramekins. Set the pan and ramekins on the oven rack then slowly and carefully pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Take care not to splash any hot water into the custards.
Bake just until the custard is set but still jiggly (not sloshy) about 30 to 35 minutes for a shallow ramekin, and 35 to 40 minutes for deeper ramekins. The custard should reach 170°F on an instant-read thermometer.
Remove the ramekins from the hot water bath and transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. Once cool cover each custard tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate on a small rimmed baking sheet until ready to serve. Chill for at least 4 hours and up to 3 days before serving.
Remove the Crème Brûlée from the refrigerator and discard the plastic wrap. If condensation has collected on the custards gently dab with a paper towel to remove.
Divide the remaining 1/4 cup sugar equally over the custards. Tilt the ramekins to distribute the sugar evenly over each custard.
Using a culinary kitchen torch melt and caramelize the sugar to a golden brown candy topping. At this point the Crème Brûlée can be cooled for 5 minutes and served, or refrigerated for 30 minutes (but no longer) then served.
Top with chopped nuts if desired and serve with fresh fruit.