Crèmes Brûlées Beware!


Please let me introduce you to the latest addition to my ever-growing collection of baking knick-knacks, tools and toys : <drumroll, please>… the Blowtorch!

You do understand, of course, how badly I needed one of these. No, really. I mean, crèmes brûlées are just one of these desserts that any self-respecting cook *has* to be able to make at home, yes? Plus, I bought the cute little earthenware ramequins the other day. And what good are they if I can’t caramelize the sugar properly, I ask you?

I wanted to get one the last time I was in the 1st arrondissement on one of my kitchen-toy-shopping-expeditions, but the store was out of them. And they cost 40 euros anyway (roughly 40 USD), which sounded a bit much.

But then Maxence and I were out on a walk in our neighborhood yesterday afternoon, hunting for a gift to bring to our friends’ housewarming party (pendaison de crémaillère, remember?), and we stumbled upon one of these old hardware stores that thankfully still survive in Paris, dusty and cluttered, where the store manager wears a blue blouse and a pencil behind his ear. We walked in and asked if they sold small chalumeaux (torches, you guessed). They did, for the more reasonable price of 15,85 euros. Maxence, the angel, gave the green light for the purchase. He did object that it would take up yet more space, which is of course very true, but with such a name, “Oxylaser”, who could resist? And also, it could one day be used to turn away intruders, you know? So we got one.

This chalumeau is a pretty basic contraption : you just insert a gas cartridge in the lower compartment, turn the adjusting knob to let the gas out, light the burner real fast with a lighter or a match, and turn the knob to shut it when you’re done!

I already have a very promising recipe for Crème Brûlée au Chocolat in my Je Veux du Chocolat cookbook, but I’ll be off researching more crème brûlée recipes now! If any of you has recommendations, I’m all ears!

Things Clotilde Loves

Japanese Mandoline Slicer
Japanese Mandoline Slicer

The indispensable utensil for paper-thin vegetable slices

  • $23
OXO Digital Scale
OXO Digital Scale

A trusty food scale for precise cooking and baking measurements

  • $49.95
  • How can one go wrong with a cookbook called “I want chocolate!”? That is so cool.

    I don’t have any good-sounding creme brulee (please pardon the lack of accents) recipes, and I have never made creme brulee, although the idea of burning things on purpose gives me a slight thrill. ;)

    Good luck, and I’m sure your Oxylaser will serve you well. I look forward to the entry.

  • Blue,
    Yeah this book is great, it’s one of my favorites. It covers a lot of chocolate ground :), from basic chocolate cake recipes to more elaborate chocolate creations, as well as great pairing suggestions and simple chocolate comfort food (the chocolate sandwich comes to mind). I love the author’s tone also, she sounds so friendly, and a genuine chocolate lover.
    I just checked, and I see that it is available in English on, under the title “I want Chocolate!” by Trish Deseine, if you want to check it out.
    And you can be sure I will blog about my crème brûlée attempt – provided I don’t burn the whole house down! :)

  • corey

    You might try a variation on this from the cookbook: Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen

    Flan de Chocolate con Kahlua

    1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup of sugar
    1 cup half and half
    1 cup milk
    3/4 chopped mexican chocolate
    1 inch cinamon stick
    4 large eggs
    1 Tablespoon Kalua
    1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract

    Being flan, part of the sugar *the 1/2 cup* is used for caramel on the bottom of the flan cup, but could just as easily be caramelized on top with the torch.

  • fuzzishu

    hi clo (and all)! i am currently learning the joys of french (albeit in switzerland)…well anyhow it’s a long story. but i am becoming a chocolateandzucchini addict (the website, not the cake, although i am sure that’s quite good too!) so, where is all this rambling going? i have a much loved recipe for lemon marscapone creme brulee tarlets with fresh raspberry sauce. rave reviews everytime. if you’d like me to post just email me and let me know. i miss my torch :( it had to stay in the US. i am still trying to equipe my kitchen here, it’s rather sparse. what with no oven and all. anyhow, thanks for all of the great writing!

  • dr yilmaz kuşkay

    Dears :
    I have a patisserie in Erzurum,Turkey. I was in a short holiday in Paris-Disney village. I visited very interesting Val d’Europe and Fnac magazin.I bought Larousse des Desserts by Pierre Herme.My master is trying to make macarones using Herme’s recipe ,but it is very difficult to obtain similar quality. I will be very much pleased to you if you inform me about the basic tips and clues for making good macarones.

  • Clotilde, I made the chocolate creme brulee recipe here on my vacation (yours was one on only two small cookbooks which traveled with me). The dessert turned out very well despite the lack of both hibiscus flowers and a creme brulee torch. At any rate I took a photo for you, like a postcard “Bonjour des Antilles“:
    Thank you so much again for your never-fail recipes.
    Your friend in Boston,

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