Preheat the oven to 130°C fan/150°C/Gas 2. Put the prunes in a small saucepan with the orange juice and cook over a low heat for about 6–8 minutes, or until the prunes soften and become plump, stirring occasionally. Tip into a food processor and add the brandy. Blitz to a smooth, spreadable purée. If the mixture looks too stiff, add a little more orange juice and blitz again. Spread into the base of six 125ml ramekins.
To make the custard, pour the cream into a medium saucepan and into it scrape out the vanilla seeds from the pod and add the pod too. Heat the cream over a very low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not allow to boil. Whisk the egg yolks and half the sugar in a jug until well combined. Strain the eggs through a fine sieve into the cream. Stir well. Remove the vanilla pod. Set the ramekins in a roasting tin and divide the cream mixture between them. Pour enough just-boiled water into the roasting tin to rise halfway up the outsides of the ramekins. Carefully transfer to the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the custard is very lightly set and still wobbles slightly in the middle. Do not allow them to overcook or they will split; separated brûlée is no fun. Remove from the oven, take the ramekins out of the water and leave to cool. Once cold, transfer the dishes to the fridge and leave to chill overnight.
About an hour before serving, sprinkle the custards with the remaining sugar and either pop under a very hot preheated grill or use a chef’s blowtorch to caramelise the sugar. Refrigerate and then serve.