Place vanilla bean piece and cream in a saucepan and heat over medium heat until cream begins to bubble. Turn off heat and allow to sit for 30 minutes. Bring heat up to warm. Stir the syrup into the egg yolks. Mix in a little of the warm cream, then mix in the rest of the cream, stirring constantly. Strain into a pitcher and pour into custard cups or pots de creme. Bake in a hot water bath in a preheated 325-degree oven, lightly covered with foil — just lay a sheet of foil on top. Bake for about 40 minutes or until custards are set in a ring about 1/2-inch wide around the outside edge. They should still be soft in the center.