Torching a creme brulee

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by phatch, Apr 20, 2006.

  1. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    I won a creme brulee torch in a white elephant party at christmas. I tried it out this week finally. I have to say, I don't find it faster than the broiler and the results aren't as good as the broiler either. It scorched too quickly even with plenty of motion.

    But it could be my technique. Any tips from the pros on how to get that crackly glassy sugar on top? With a torch or a broiler? as I'm always looking for tips.

    Phil
     
  2. castironchef

    castironchef

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    Most pros use a regular, hardware store propane torch, e.g. Bernz-O-Matic, and not the kitchen boutique ones. More BTUs and higher reliability. The boutique-y ones generally have too narrow a flame and that's what can lead to scortching.

    That said, use lots of movement.
     
  3. cakerookie

    cakerookie

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    I agree with CastIron Chef.Propane Bernz-a-matic is what I use too.CastIron Chef is right in that its movement,movement,movement! Good Luck.
     
  4. someday

    someday

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    You could also try turning the ramekin in a circular motion as you are torching it to allow the sugar to liquefy and drip down, creating an even melt and less scorching.

    And hey, remember that creme brulee means burnt cream, so a little black might be ok depending on your tastes...I find it tastes good and helps give it a little more depth, instead of just being really really sweet, it got some complexity.

    Good luck.
     
  5. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    Don't get too close with the flame either. Too many novices want to force that flame right down onto the creme brulee. When I do mine the flame just barely touches the surface, and I am constantly moving the flame back and forth so as to not get one area so hot that I can't control the amount of caramelization that I want.
     
  6. blueicus

    blueicus

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    Does anyone find that in particular cases (in particular at one restaurant I went to recent) you will get burnt sugar that tastes a little bit like propane if you use a torch to melt sugar? If so, is there a particular technique to prevent that, or it is simply advisable to simply use an iron or a broiler?
     
  7. panini

    panini

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    Blueicus,
    I'm going to guess that the extra taste is from butane. We torched a couple of weeks ago with both propane and butane. We actually picked up a taste of butane. Some of the smaller brulee torches use butane. We found that the brulee torches did not have enough oxygen, the flame point was to acute.
    We used the plumbers propane torch where the blue goes to yellow. Like Pete says, you don't want to be right up on the item. Just some insight.
    pan
     
  8. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    All of these fuels are naturally odorless, same as natural gas. They add an odorant--allegedly a synthetic garlic smell-- to alert you about unburned gas. It's a safety thing.

    That could certainly taint food though.

    Phil
     
  9. even stephen

    even stephen

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    I usually use sugar in the raw. Also if you have problems with
    burning, torch a little with movement, just starting to melt the
    sugar crystals and then back of for about 20 or 30 seconds. You
    don't have to start and finish in one continuous burn. Give the
    sugar a little time to cool off. I have also made sugar disks on the
    back of sheetpans. very thin layers of sugar melted in the oven to
    a very light brown, then cooled and stored dry. the trick is getting
    the shapes and sizes correct.
     
  10. cjdacook

    cjdacook

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    Another vote for an 'industrial' torch rather than the broiler - also, are you using Turbinado or Demerara sugar?? These give the best results.
     
  11. godfather_chef

    godfather_chef

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    i use a bernzomatic propane torch on creme brulee all the time, and i have never had any complaints from anybody about the food tasting like gas, but i'm sure that is is quite possible that it could taint the food somewhat, but i think it's more in their minds than in the food.
     
  12. harpua

    harpua

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    I would have to second the sugar in the raw, however when we forgot to order it, we mix white with brown sugar. The layer of sugar should also not be too thick. It's easy to put too much on. I also agree with the distance. We use those huge propane burners, very different from the one my mom got me from target for christmas (P.O.S.). I get very frustrated with those, because it feels like you have to put it so close to get even a melt, but it burns too quickly. You just have to take your time, and it will definately be better than a broiler.
     
  13. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    I used a sugar mix, but I do have turbinado on hand so I'll use it next time.

    Phil
     
  14. mikelm

    mikelm

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    I use the Bernz, too and get pretty good results. Let me suggest you get the tip for the Bernz that spreads the flame: you get a wider, fan-shaped flame instead of a pointed one.

    It just occurred to me- I'm gonna get one before the next brulee orgy. :roll:

    So- this isn't experience speaking. Just an untested bright (?) idea. :p

    Mike
     
  15. andrew563

    andrew563

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    I used an iron from creme brulees once upon a time, it worked out pretty good.
     
  16. chef kaiser

    chef kaiser

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    hi,

    Any honnest professional should admit, that with the torch you never can achieve this ice like sugar crust. the torch is good for large functions, but not to present the traditional creme brulee.

    regards
     
  17. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    Sorry Chef Kaiser, but I have to disagree. If you use a torch properly, and don't rush it, you can get as good results as using a broiler or an iron. Though I have never used one of those little, "gourmet" torches.
     
  18. cjdacook

    cjdacook

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    I completely agree with you Pete!!
     
  19. chef kaiser

    chef kaiser

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    Pete,

    no disagreement, it is just the question of time i am looking at. As for large function we use the torche, which commonly when using this technique, the surface is uneven colored (speed and rush) and if you really want to have a nice caramel crust, cracking when starting too eat the cream, well i just feel i can not get an even product when preparing this dessert for 100 and plus customers.

    But i agree when doing it slowly and giving the sugar time to disolve and caramelize with the torch it is possible but today time is money as we all know. Well i more refered to the perfect product, with what i was writting.

    regards
     
  20. momoreg

    momoreg

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    Harpua is right. Layer on the sugar in small amounts, torching, and adding more after it caramelizes. It'll burn if it's too thick.