Thursday, August 25, 2016

Ode to a Kitchen Torch (and Creme Brulee)

Alton Brown - my most beloved 'celebrity'-chef who isn't really a chef - often warns of the useless nature of kitchen 'unitaskers'...those items that are really only good for one or two tasks, but are splendid at taking up space. I'm inclined to agree with him on the unneccessary nature of most unitaskers (corn kernel separator, apple peeling wheel, meat shredding claws, etc), and have even formulated my own list of one-hit wonders that I have no intention of ever purchasing (yolk separator, salad spinner, egg slicer). For some reason, a kitchen torch made it onto that list, and I have to publicly apologize to all kitchen torch manufacturers everywhere for that misstep.

Kitchen torches are amazing.

You could toast a marshmallow in an instant!

You could melt cheese in a jiffy!

You could char peppers in a flash!

Or....

You could brulee.

Creme Brulee

Creme Brulee is the perfect fancy home-made meal dessert. It's insanely easy to throw together, it's perfect to make ahead, it's impressive to serve and it's just the right amount of sugar to cap off a meal.

Creme Brulee

  • 10 egg yolks (I would say use extra large)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 1 TB vanilla
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • Turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw)
Place heavy cream, scraped vanilla caviar and vanilla bean pod in a small saucepan and heat until warm, but absolutely not boiling. Remove from heat, discard vanilla pod and add in the vanilla extract. 

While the cream is heating, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until thick and light yellow. 

Slowly drizzle in a bit of the warm cream to the yolk mix, whisking constantly to temper the eggs. Continue to whisk in the rest of the cream. 

Place shallow custard ramekins in a baking dish. Pour creme mixture nearly to the top of each. Place in a 325 degree oven and add enough water to the baking dish to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. 

Bake 30 minutes, or until the centers are set. 

Remove from oven and baking dish. Cool slightly, then cover tightly in plastic wrap and chill thoroughly in the refrigerator. 

When ready to serve, top with a thin layer of turbinado sugar and brulee with a kitchen torch until sugar is melted, browned and bubbly. Be sure to move the torch around so as not to burn the sugar (unless that's your kind of brulee..) Serve immediately. 

*Note: you can certainly use deeper ramekins, but know that the baking time will increase significantly and the risk of over-baking the outside of the creme is a very real possibility. 

After