# Flambe, alcohol percentage and water residue

In Norway, the strongest liquor allowed to buy is 60% (120proof?). I try to flambé my Crème Brûlée as suggested in Can I make Crème Brûlée using a flambé?.

Problem is that my tests on a pre-made chocolate pudding with the 60% alcohol still leaves too much water.

So for a newbie in flambé, is there a way to prevent all this water?
Do I use too much alcohol ?

Or might the access water come from seeping from the pudding in addition to what is coming from the alcohol residues, meaning it wont be a problem when doing it with a properly made Crème Brûlée?

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The accepted answer in the question you linked says "No "standard" alcohol burns hot enough to caramelize the sugar using a reasonable small amount". So, what are you doing exactly? Are you nevertheless trying to caramelize the caramel by flambeing? Or are you having trouble with the route suggested there, which is to pre-caramelize the sugar and then flambe only for show? – rumtscho Dec 31 '13 at 15:47
I have caremelized the sugar first and ground it to dust. Then I wanted to use the heat from the burning alcohol to fuse the powder again, just as suggested in the accepted answer. Problem is that in my test on a premade chocolate pudding the caremelized sugar powder didn't bond properly because of a residue of water from the burning alcohol. So I am wondering how to do this trick…Sadly I have not enough reputation to ask directly in the linked questions so I am trying to formulate this as a separate question. – polve Dec 31 '13 at 18:01
60%=120 proof = 40% water :-) – polve Dec 31 '13 at 18:44

It's been a long time since I actually did this, but my recollection is that the result will leave some residual water. It's not an ideal environment for a flambé, but that's OK because you're not actually trying to cook with it, it's more of a show technique that generates just enough heat to produce a caramel-like texture from ground-up caramelized sugar.

• Don't overdo it with the alcohol. You want to use a very small amount - just a splash.
• Make sure the alcohol is hot enough before you try to ignite it. Make sure that it is a uniform temperature, and that you're not just igniting the surface.
• Work quickly. If too much of the alcohol burns up while you're working, then you are essentially dumping water in, and there might not be enough heat to melt the sugar powder.
• Consider serving the crème brûlée closer to room temperature, or at least not as cold as fridge temperature. The colder it is, the quicker the fire will get doused and the more liquid will (probably) remain behind.
• Custards are firmer than pudding to begin with, so "watering it down" shouldn't be a huge concern.
• It's a bit of a cop-out, but I want to say, don't worry. If it's good alcohol then nobody's going to mind a bit of a film on the surface - it's part of the attraction!

I remember this taking me several tries to get right, and probably wouldn't use the technique at all if I were serving to a particularly critical audience. It's more about getting a passable crème brûlée with some cool visual effects than getting a perfect crème brûlée with an impossible technique.

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Thank you for your descriptive answer. Yes, I was trying to do it for show. I ended up with too much water, using to much alcohol - luckily on a test pudding. Ended up pre-caramelising the sugar, ground it and then doing the blowtorch (also a bit show in that). The pre-handling of the sugar actually made for a really good crust. – polve Aug 8 '14 at 14:35

I think you may be confusing the flambe method with the traditional method of making Creme Brulee, which is done using a blow torch, not alcohol. Have you considered using a propane torch? These can usually be purchased at hardware stores, with a small tank of propane, for not much money. Then you can melt and caramelize the sugar on top of your custards without alcohol.

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The OP specifically requested explanation for using a flambe technique, and your answer got flagged as not addressing the question. I am converting it to a comment. – rumtscho Jan 22 '14 at 15:53
I think this is the most debatable one; the OP's intent was a bit confusing. But it definitely seems like as rumtscho said the OP was trying to not use a torch, so asking "do you actually mean this other thing?" is more of a request for clarification on the question than an answer to the question. Keep in mind that this does not mean it's not helpful - comments are helpful too. – Jefromi May 2 '14 at 21:28
That said, I think there's room for an answer here that says "I don't think you can do what you're trying to do, I think you need to use a torch." I don't want to put words in your mouth, so I'm not going to edit it for you - but if that's what you were trying to say, please feel free to edit and I'll gladly undelete this. – Jefromi May 2 '14 at 21:31