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Is it possible to finish a creme brulee without a torch? Are there any other creative methods to get the sugar to crisp up on the top of this delicious dessert?

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In my opinion, a blowtorch is a worthwile investment. Do yourself a favour though and buy a proper welding blowtorch in the hardware store - not one of the "cooking" ones. Mine runs on MAPP gas (which is flavourless and unscented, so food doesn't get that gas smell if the flame should go out for any reason) and crisps up crème brulée within a couple of seconds. It also works great for browning meats after cooking them sous-vide. –  adebaumann Aug 14 '13 at 12:47

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The classic method is to do it under the broiler (grill in UK parlance).

You have to watch it carefully, so that you can take it out when it is done but not burned, but otherwise that is is it.

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But a torch is so much more fun! If you make creme brulee often it's worth getting a torch to make the torching event part of the entertainment for your guests. –  cantfork Aug 13 '13 at 1:43

The third (and really old-school) approach which some people use is a branding iron.

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While quaint, the success rate is low, expect burning! –  TFD Aug 13 '13 at 18:42

Here are some more alternatives (some really common in kitchens and some, not so much):

  • The broil setting in a toaster oven also works. Don't forget to ice-water bath your ramekins.
  • A BBQ lighter. A little slow, but gets there. The "windproof" ones are better.
  • A piece of red hot charcoal from the fireplace.
  • Hotter heat guns work, but you'll end up warming the custard with the blowing air.
  • CO2 Laser, so you can print Hello Kitty on the custard. (most laser engravers are FDA approved)
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