I have a new toy. I've been wanting to get this kitchen torch for a while now, ostensibly to make vegan versions of crème brulée, French onion soup, toasted meringues, and things like that, but really just because it looks so cool when you see chefs using those torches on TV and such. It's so... dangerous. It makes me feel like I'm really serious in the kitchen. Like I'm someone who knows how to sous vide things, or make foams and crap like that. (For the record, I understand the basic principle of sous vide, but I have never attempted it, nor do I plan to do so.)
So now that I am torch-equipped, the first project was this Holiday Spiced Crème Brulée recipe that I found on Chef Chloe's always-inspiring blog. The cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger make this a perfect alternative to the usual holiday cakes, pies, and cookies. The base of the "custard" is non-dairy milk (I used almond) and coconut milk, with cornstarch as a thickener. The result is rich, creamy, spicy, and as sinful-tasting as a holiday dessert should be.
The best part of any crème brulée, however, is the crackly layer of sugar on the top. That's where the fun comes in. You have to sprinkle a layer of sugar over the chilled brulée, and then torch it until the sugar becomes bubbly and melts. It's harder to do than it looks, and as this was my first time ever torching anything, I had a few uneven overly-dark spots. Chef Chloe's version is certainly more photogenic than mine, but I'm going to keep working on it. Right after I sous vide something, and top it with a foam.