How to Use a Kitchen Blowtorch to Make Crème Brûlée
Crème Brûlée, also known as Burnt Cream, Creme Catalana, or Trinity Cream, is a decadent dessert with a rich custard base and hard caramel top. The custard base is traditionally flavored with vanilla, but can have a variety of other flavorings like our delectable Butterscotch Crème Brûlée version made with the help of a kitchen blowtorch.
While England, Spain and France all claim to have created the first version of Crème Brûlée, it’s difficult to trace the beginnings of this velvety treat and give credit to any one country. While many people assume that Crème Brûlée is French, this mouth-watering, elegant dessert didn’t actually become popular until the 19th century and is likely a variety of custard from the European Middle Ages.
The British version of Crème Brûlée, Trinity Burnt Cream, is unsweetened and the topping is thick and crusty. The version served in Catalonia, Crema Catalana , is a rich custard flavored with lemon or orange zest and topped with caramelized sugar. The French version of Crème Brûlée is often served cold or at room temperature and the top is caramelized by a kitchen blowtorch.
Tips for using a kitchen blowtorch:
Don’t be intimidated by this seemingly medieval flame throwing device. A kitchen blowtorch is easier to control then you think. You’ll need it during the final step of making Crème Brûlée in order to melt and caramelize a thin layer of granulated sugar on the top of the custard.
It’s important to use fine, consistent grains of granulated sugar so the layer melts evenly and quickly. Brown sugar isn’t ideal because of its high moisture content, and raw and turbinado crystals are large and therefore show uneven melting.
The trick to properly caramelizing sugar with a kitchen blowtorch is to move the torch back and forth evenly until you see the sugar start to bubble and crust. Be patient because it can take a while. World-renowned chef, Imperial’s “Prince of Pastry” Chef Eddy Van Damme suggests practicing first.
“Sprinkle an area on a cookie sheet with sugar and torch it to the caramel stage,” he said. “After practicing, soak your cookie sheet in water until the caramel has completely dissolved so you don’t need to scrub it off.”
Once you feel comfortable using your kitchen blowtorch and are successful in achieving consistent caramelization – you’ll be ready to create our smooth and creamy butterscotch custard. Tasting its crunchy, sweet, caramelized sugar top will be your reward. Pair with a glass of sweet, rich dessert wine and a shortbread cookie.
Check out our other recipes for Crème Brûlée including cakes, pies and tarts on our website. Which one is your favorite?
Watch our video demonstrating how to use a kitchen blowtorch.