Those are the words of culinary pioneer Julie Child. Indeed, every kitchen should have a little flame or heating element that can create the magical, glass-like topping of a brûlée. The word means “burnt woodland” in French, but we most commonly know it as the glorious crackly surface of crème brûlée.

Torches are available at kitchen supply store and are very easy to use. Sugar is sprinkled evenly over the surface of the custard, and then heated with a torch until the sugar melts, caramelizes, and then cools to a smooth surface. The contrast of cracking through that crust into the creamy dessert below is one of life’s great culinary indulgences.

Of course, other foods can be brûléed. Fruits cut in half, such as grapefruit, peaches, or figs, are wonderful sprinkled with sugar and kissed by the flame. Simple breakfast foods like oatmeal or cream of wheat are elevated with a sugar crust. Savory items like pork belly or bacon also respond to the torch beautifully.

Ready To Test Your Blowtorch Skills?