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Creme Brulee HELP!!!

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Okay, I make the Lemon Creme Brulee Tart often from Epicurious, to great reviews. HOWEVER, being the hound that I am, I am not happy with the top. I cannot seem to get the thin crip layer of sugar like when I've had it out even though I have used a torch for this. I've followed the recipe which suggests putting it under the broiler and I find that it browns considerably but isn't crisp. I've used a propane torch which I bought specifically for this purpose and it usually ignites the sugar and then blows out. I was thinking it over today and wondering if I used enough sugar? Also, I've seen recipes calling for brown sugar, does that make a difference? I also notice that not all of the sugar browns which is a major irritant to me, I hate the thought of tasting granulated sugar...yuck! As I don't eat this one (make them to sell or donate) I cannot help but cringe when I see the sugar granules on top amidst the browned surface. No one complains in fact I continue to get tons of praise for this but I know it isn't what I want it to be...HELP HOUNDS!!!!!

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  1. Sounds like you're doing everything correctly.

    If your cremes are in little ramekins, spoon a whole tablespoon over the top, then swirl them around until the top is covered, the dump the excess back in the sugar bowl.

    Your torch is probably the right tool for the job. Hold the end about 2 inches away and work in concentric circles. Caremelize that sugar! For it to be brittle it needs to burn (hence Brulee!) think coffee brown. It should stay hard and brittle for hours, but will soften into a caramel-esque goo over time.

    Sounds good to me!

    As for the other sugars, brown sugar is hygroscopic (likes water) so though it will be splendid at first, it will begin to get soggy pretty quickly.
    Sugar in the raw is a great alternative, but becasue the crystals are pretty large, you may not like the rocky-crystals peeking out of the brittle caramel (I do!)

    Happy burning!

    1. I would venture that you are not putting enough sugar. I used sugar in the raw and it worked well. Also maybe you are putting your torch a bit too close. Hope this helps.

      1. It may be your sugar. If it is not 100% cane sugar it will never caramelize properly. If your sugar package is not marked 100% cane sugar you have beet sugar and it just burns. Is the torch you are using one of those little things that has been on the market in the past few years? Those don't do as good a job as a regular full sized torch either. And, be generous with the sugar.

        1. I'm sorry to piggy back on the post, but my hardware store blowtorch died recently and I don't know what to do to refill it. Or do I just buy a new canister? I feel really dumb asking this question.

          (Yes, I've made lots of creme brulees in the past couple of years! I've also decoratively torched a few meringues too.)

          5 Replies
          1. re: raj1

            Go buy a new tank at the hardware store. You take the nozzle off the old tank and put it on the new one.

            1. re: raj1

              I'm assuming you've got a propane torch that you purchased already assembled? If so, yes - just unscrew the brass "torch" part and replace the propane cylinder. Replacement cylinders are readily available at every hardware store and many other places - just be sure you get one that contains propane or LP gas - there are a couple other types of gas around, notably MAPP.

              1. re: raj1

                Speking of torch problems, my BERNZOMATIC consistently goes out when I tip it down to brulee my brulee. What am I doing wrong?

                1. re: Scagnetti

                  My understanding (not 100% sure of this) is that the newer torches are designed for safety purposes to go out when tipped over. I don't know if that's something being mandated by the government or if it's being done voluntarily by manufacturers. If the latter, I suppose it might be possible to find a torch without that feature, or maybe pick up an older one at a yard sale.

                  1. re: Scagnetti

                    Maybe your fuel is running low. I had the same problem a while back and it was immediately corrected when I bought a new fuel bottle. I use the same brand of torch as you do.

                2. Make sure your torch is on full blast and the flame comes out concentrated not like starter flames. Make sure you rotate the dish around when using the torch and no water condensation is collected at the top. Brown sugar is basically white sugar with caramel added to it, so it shouldn't make any difference besides a more caramel taste.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: theSauce

                    Brown sugar burns too easily and doesn't melt as well as white sugar.

                    1. re: theSauce

                      Sorry to nit pick-
                      Brown sugar is less refined white sugar that contains molasses- not added caramel.

                      The molasses content makes the sugar hygroscopic and therefore absorbs more water

                      1. re: jdherbert

                        Brown sugar used to be less refined. Now it's just white sugar with molasses (not caramel) added back in.

                        1. re: FlyFish

                          Sorry my bad, yes both posters are correct it is molasses and not caramel. I was thinking of another type of sugar.