This is an apology letter to our kitchen torch, you know the one I gave as a birthday present for my mom two years ago? Remember the one way at the back of the cupboard? No? Neither did I, I swear. At the time it seemed like a good idea, my mom is a sucker for crème brulée and I envisioned us sitting in our dining room with fancy table cloths and fancy china finishing off our meals with homemade crème brulée fired up directly at the table (while speaking French too, just for the sake of the fantasy).
Alas it had never occurred to me that anyone in my family would have reservations about using an over glorified cigarette lighter in the kitchen. I mean really what’s the worst that could happen? You know it’s not like the torch could be accidentally dropped by some distressed chef into my apron drawer and burn all my cute aprons to ashes, or spontaneously ignite itself while sitting right next to a can of cooking spray, which would explode under the heat and set the whole kitchen ablaze. These thoughts might have shaken a lesser cook, not a fearless chef like me. I just put off using the torch because I forgot about it, not because I was scared. I don’t really like crème brulée anyway. Finally however, I was persuaded to fire up the old light by my mom, who’d gone sans crème brulée for long enough. After a slightly startling beginning and the discovery of the flame size adjuster, I was able to brulée some adequate crème. Surprisingly, the kitchen appears to have made it the through the whole thing unscathed (even my apron drawer), and the entire family’s eyelashes and eyebrows are present and accounted for. It went so well, that I might have to make it again, not because I got over some irrational fear or anything… I just like crème brulée a little more than I thought. I might even regret letting the kitchen torch gather dust all these years… but not too much.
Lavender Almond Crème “Break your Irrational Fear” Brulée
4 fresh lavender flowers
1/4 ground almonds
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
3 egg yolks
5 tbs. sugar
1. Heat cream and lavender flower in a small saucepan and heat until boiling, add almonds and let sit for several minutes.
2. Whisk together eggs yolks and 3 tbs. sugar in a saucepan until thick. Using a cheesecloth strain, strain lavender flowers and almonds out of the cream, and whisk the cream with the egg yolks and sugar.
3. Heat the saucepan to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir constantly and let boil until the mixture coats the back of a metal spoon.
4. Divide into three ramekins and bake at 300 for 20-30 minutes.
5. Remove from oven and divide remaining 2 tbs. of sugar among the three ramekins. Sprinkle sugar evenly over the surface of the custard. Fire the sugar with a kitchen torch until it turns dark brown (if you’re too chicken for a kitchen torch -not that anyone would be- you can just stick the ramekins back in the oven on broil).