There was a time when chefs within a commercial environment were the main users of the culinary torch however this is no longer the case. These days you can generally find a kitchen torch in a variety of domestic kitchens as well, because consumers are discovering the many and varied uses for a butane kitchen torch. Cooking is becoming a lifestyle choice once again as people seek to create interesting and nutritious meals from fresh produce.
A kitchen torch is a useful tool to have on hand to create many interesting effects for both sweet dessert dishes and savory dishes as well. The concentrated flame allows users to apply high levels of heat to very specific areas of a dish and the most widely known application would have to be the caramelised sugar atop the traditional crème brulee. There is much more that can be done with a kitchen torch though and we will look at some ideas which may be worth your while trying.
If you like fruit tarts, baked Alaska or fruit pies, topping them with meringue can add a gourmet touch. How to brown the meringue may have been a big problem at one time, but with a kitchen torch, you can evenly and perfectly brown your meringue without affecting the dessert underneath.
Or how about toasting marshmallows when you don’t have a log fire to do the toasting? A kitchen torch easily solves this problem. Just place your marshmallow on a fork and twirl it through the flame for perfect toasting. Likewise, you can create burnt sugar garnishes to place on top of desserts, iced cakes or ice cream. Just place cookie cutters (metal ones) on a tray and sprinkle sugar inside them, use the kitchen torch to heat the sugar shapes until they are crisp, then remove the cutter to reveal your crispy garnish. You can also use this same technique to create a crispy golden topping on the top of sponge cakes.
For a really special dessert idea, liqueurs and fruit compotes can be transformed if you have a torch for cooking. Make up the fruit compotes then place a generous amount of your favourite liqueur into a stainless steel cup or small bowl. Use the kitchen torch to heat up the liqueur and pour it over the compotes. Grand Marnier works particularly well for this.
Try creating tuna or chicken individual salad servings and sprinkle a topping of grated Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs on the top. Then use your culinary torch to brown the topping. You can also char bell peppers in the same way, then peel off the skins when they are cool.
Peeling tomatoes is a difficult business at the best of times, but not so if you have a torch for cooking. Just heat the tomato all over with the torch until the skin begins to crack then allow it to cool and the skin off will peel off easily. Melting cheese with precision is also a breeze, especially when you don’t want to heat up what is underneath.
Baked ham is always a special treat, especially at Christmas and you can glaze it perfectly with your kitchen torch. You can place pineapple (or other fruit) on the top, sprinkle sugar over it and then use your torch to apply heat until the sugar caramelizes.
Let’s not forget breakfast either because you can also make some treats to start the day as well. If you like to have oatmeal for breakfast, try placing it in a bowl as usual and sprinkle it with sugar. Then use your kitchen torch to heat the sugar until it is crispy. If grapefruit is more your thing, cut one in half, pat the surface dry and spread a tiny amount of butter across it. Follow up with a sprinkling of sugar and cinnamon, then heat with the torch until the sugar bubbles.
These are just a few ideas which you can use to expand your culinary skills by using a kitchen torch. It comes into its own when you want to heat and/or brown the top of a recipe without changing the underlying layers and the precision flame is ideal for this purpose. If you haven’t yet tried using a torch for cooking, give it a try and join the growing number of domestic cooks all over the world who are letting their creativity loose in the kitchen.