Brûlèe and Beyond: Our Favorite Ways to Use a Kitchen Torch
Do you need a culinary blowtorch in order to call your kitchen well-equipped? The answer is probably not. But do you want a blowtorch to up your game in the kitchen and, well, just to have fun? Absolutely! Playing with open flames may seem like a scary proposition—but think of a kitchen torch as just a handheld broiler. With a torch, you can focus the flame to create the exact level of toastiness you want, with no guesswork, no peering into the oven or propping open the door, and no overcooking.
Kitchen torches are commonly used for toasting the meringue on top of treats like a lemon meringue pie, a Swiss roll, or a baked Alaska. A torch allows you to get a lovely layer of caramelization on the meringue in a short amount of time without heating up the filling underneath—that's vital for these desserts, as nobody wants to go to the trouble of crafting an elaborate dish just to end up serving a warm puddle of lemon curd or raspberry sherbet (which is exactly what can end up happening if you try to toast these babies under the broiler).
Another of the most widely known uses of a kitchen torch is for making crème brûlée. Specifically, the torch is used for melting and caramelizing a layer of sugar on top of a dish of already-cooked custard just before it's served. The finished product is a feast for the senses, as a crackly, toasty layer of caramel gives way to cool, creamy custard. That torch essentially transforms a bowl of pudding into a four-star delicacy. Just think what other dishes you can elevate with a torch, adding new layers of flavor and transforming their texture. If you like crème brûlée, then how about brûléed cheesecake or pumpkin pie? And even humble breakfast offerings like French toast, grapefruit, or oatmeal become next-level dishes with the help of a kitchen torch. You can even torch some marshmallows for an elevated take on s'mores, no open fire necessary.
But the kitchen torch isn't just for satisfying your sweet tooth. Think about how much more delicious that pan of mac and cheese will be with a layer of buttery breadcrumbs on top, toasted to a crispy finish right before it hits the table. And how many times have you pulled a pizza or a lasagna out of the oven that was hot and ready…except that the cheese just wasn't quite browned and melty enough? Or a batch of stuffed mushrooms or slab of polenta that's not quite toasty and crispy enough? Guess what: These are all times when having a kitchen torch will come in handy. With this fun little source of flames at your fingertips, you'll always be ready to add that extra special element of crunchy, toasty, or melty deliciousness to any meal.