Preheat oven to 275° F.
In a small, heavy skillet over low heat, stir the 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon water until the sugar melts, is free of lumps and turns a light caramel color.
Pour a spoonful into 6 four-ounce custard cups and let stand until cooled.
Beat the eggs with the 1/4 cup sugar and add the scalded milk slowly, while stirring. Add vanilla extract. Strain carefully into the prepared cups to avoid disturbing the caramel.
Place cups in a pan of hot water. The water should come almost to the top of the cups. Cover with foil. Bake slowly, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from the water and cool. Chill. To serve, run a knife around the edge of the custard and invert the cup onto a small plate.Makes 6 Source: