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Creative Uses For Your Culinary Torch

FIRE THINGS UP! A culinary torch has myriad other uses in the kitchen for preparing both sweet and savory dishes. Here are a few suggestions:

Brown meringues. Use the torch to perfectly brown the meringue on fruit tarts, pies and baked Alaska. Sear tomato skins. Set a tomato on a heatproof surface or hold with tongs and heat with a torch until the skin starts to crack. Let cool, then peel. Broil grapefruit for a breakfast treat. Cut a grapefruit in half and pat the cut surface dry with a paper towel. Spread a little soft butter on the surface, then sprinkle with cinnamon and a thin layer of sugar. Heat with a torch until the sugar bubbles. Make a crisp topping for oatmeal. Spoon cooked oatmeal into a bowl, sprinkle with a thin layer of sugar and heat with a torch until crispy. Melt cheese. For a delicious finishing touch, top onion soup gratinée or chili with grated cheese and melt with a torch.

Glazing. Glaze fruit tarts and other pastry desserts, or brown Baked Alaska

Roasting. Brown the top of roasts and fish for added flavor.

Casseroles and Lasagna. Heat and melt cheese on top of casseroles and lasagna Toast a bread crumb topping on salads. Stuff tomato or avocado halves with chicken or tuna salad. Sprinkle with buttered bread crumbs and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, then heat with a torch until golden brown. Roast bell peppers. Hold a bell pepper with tongs and heat with a torch until the skin is charred. Place the pepper in a paper bag, let cool and then peel. Glaze a baked ham. Lay pineapple slices or other fruit on the ham and sprinkle with sugar. Heat with a torch until the sugar caramelizes. Throw a s'mores party. Place graham crackers, chocolate bars and marshmallows on a platter. Invite guests to spear marshmallows with fondue forks and toast them with a torch, then assemble their own dessert sandwiches. Create burnt sugar garnishes. Place a greased cookie cutter on a Silpat liner and sprinkle a thin layer of sugar inside the cutter. Heat with a torch until crisp, then lift off the cutter. Use the burnt sugar decoration to garnish hot chocolate, coffee drinks or desserts, such as ice cream or frosted cakes. Prepare an aromatic fruit compote. Pour Grand Marnier or another liqueur into a stainless-steel measuring cup and heat with a torch. Pour the warmed liqueur over a fruit compote. Create a sugar crust on a rolled sponge cake. Sprinkle the cake with sugar and heat with a torch until the sugar is crisp and golden.

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