Step 1Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl until well blended.
Step 2Pour the half-and-half into a medium saucepan. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, and scrape the seeds into the half-and-half. Drop in the pod. Heat to a simmer.
Step 3Add a little of the half-and-half mixture into the egg yolk-sugar mixture, stirring slowly. Add the rest, stir to combine and pour the mixture back into the saucepan.
Step 4Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, 5 to 6 minutes. Strain the mixture into a bowl and chill. May be made a day ahead; cover and store in the refrigerator.
Step 1Combine the water and sugar in a small heavy saucepan, and cook over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to high, and bring the mixture to a boil. Continue to boil without stirring until the sugar turns deep amber, about 6 to 7 minutes.
Step 2Remove the syrup from the heat. Stir in the cream and set aside. Can be made a day ahead; cool, cover and refrigerate. Warm gently over low heat before serving.
Step 1In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sugar, and beat until stiff peaks form.
Step 2Pour the milk into a medium skillet and heat to a low simmer.
Step 3Form the egg-white mixture into meringue "islands" by spooning about one-fourth cup of meringue onto a large spoon and then turning the spoon over and scooping the mixture into another spoon to form ovals.
Step 4Drop the meringues into the simmering milk. Poach them, turning once, for about 3 minutes total. If a skin forms on the milk, skim it off and discard. Remove the meringues from the milk, and set onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Step 5To serve, spoon one-third cup creme anglaise into a soup plate. Top with two meringue "islands" and drizzle with a little caramel sauce. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and serve immediately.