Pour the milk and vanilla pod into a medium pan and bring just to boiling point. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place the egg yolks and sugar together into a large bowl and whisk until pale and thick – about 3-4 minutes with an electric whisk. Then whisk in the hot milk and pour the custard back into the saucepan through a sieve, place over a low heat and stir constantly with a spatula for a couple of minutes or until it thickens slightly. It should just coat the back of the spoon and if you draw a finger across the spatula it should leave a clear trail. Remove from the heat, pour into a bowl, cover with parchment paper (directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin forming) and chill. Once cool – pour into a large serving bowl.
For the meringues, place the egg whites into a large clean bowl and beat with an electric whisk until it forms stiff peaks. You should be able to hold the bowl upside down without the mix falling out. Then gradually add the sugar a little at a time and beat constantly until all the sugar has been incorporated and the meringue mix is glossy and fairly stiff. Fill a large pan with water, bring to a simmer and then place spoonfuls of the meringue mix onto the surface of the water using 2 tablespoons to make quenelle shapes. Gently lower the quenelles into the simmering water.
Simmer for 2 minutes, then flip over and simmer for another 2 minutes. Carefully remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Repeat until you have 16 meringues – or 3-4 meringues per person. Pile the meringues on top of the cooled custard. For the caramel, scatter the sugar and water over the base of a large frying pan, place over a medium heat and swirl the pan over the heat (without stirring) until the sugar has melted and it has turned a golden brown colour. Drizzle the caramel over the meringues in a lattice pattern, scatter with the toasted almonds and chill until ready to serve.
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