Fire it up!
hot cocoa under blow torch
Photography by Jeffrey Westbrook
| Credit: Photography by Jeffrey Westbrook

Rumor has it that Julia Child once said, "Everyone should have a blowtorch in the kitchen." And she was right. I've spent much of my cooking life trying to brûlée in the broiler or with one of those culinary torches with the wimpy flame and dinky fuel cartridge. And then I got my hands on a real blowtorch. I used it to quickly brown the top of a pan of mac and cheese and a few bowls of French onion soup—then I moved on to dessert. It brûléed my crème in an instant and gave me a thick, crunchy crust and a still-cool custard. The flame is massive, the propane cylinder is big, and the whole torch is the model of efficiency. It makes me feel like a total badass. Kinda like Julia herself.

For making at-home s'mores (and more!), we like the affordable, easy-to-use Bernzomatic TS4000 High Heat Torch ($40, plus $4 for a propane cylinder).

Use a blowtorch with caution so you don't flame out.