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LesleyC

Creme brulee flambe

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LesleyC   

this week, at a little restaurant in Venice, Italy, I had a creme brulee (crema catalana on their menu) that arrived at the table in flames, the flames being used to brulee the sugar. after the meal i asked the waiter what liquid had been used for the flambe, and he showed me a little plastic spray bottle, the only word on which i could read was Caramel. he said that the sugar was just sprinkled over the creme, some of the liquid added, and lit.

the sugar crystals when it arrived at the table looked more the size of normal granulated sugar than castor sugar, but by the time the flame had gone out some 40 seconds later, there was a lovely thin film of caramel on top of the creme brulee.

Does anyone know what this liquid was, and where I may get my hands on some (preferably a UK source), but to be honest, just knowing what it was will help me find it. Many hours of googling my fingers raw has got me nowhere at all.

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LesleyC   

i'm going to try it with virtually any alcoholic beverage suitable for a little flambe, but the caramel flavouring in the liquid in the restaurant I think is important. the sugar certainly didn't cook long enough to give the caramel taste to the brulee.

If it helps any the little spray bottle had a capacity of around 200 ml, so not huge, and it was clearly the bottle that the stuff was bought in, not decanted. I feel sure I would have noticed the word grappa on the bottle, and there wasnt the slightest taste of any sort to the dessert other than that of regular creme brulee. the liquid in the bottle was a caramel colour too.

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Crud, I saw this demoed about a year ago by a big corporate entity from Europe. The sugar crystals are brown and a bit crunchy before being flamed. It's a kit, including the custard, from a big European purveyor. I recall asking if I could just buy the sugar and being told that that the kit couldn't be broken up. Sorry, I don't recall more details. IIRC the company was Swiss....maybe...

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LesleyC   

Yes yes yes!!!

Thank you Lisa. changed my google search criteria to look for a kit and found this ...

And this bunch have a lovely video and seem to sell the sugar and liquid separately if you're still wanting some.

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jrshaul   

Does anyone know exactly what is in this product? It looks like a mixture of ground caramelized sugar and regular sugar. I can't read the website; it's all in French, and Google Translate can't grok their fancy flash interface.

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LesleyC   

i have ordered one of the kits containing the sugar and fluid, so when it arrives, if nobody else has given ingredient information, i'll post it.

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jrshaul   

i have ordered one of the kits containing the sugar and fluid, so when it arrives, if nobody else has given ingredient information, i'll post it.

I'm looking forwards to it.

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LesleyC   

Kit arrived this morning (not bad, only ordered it yesterday afternoon). Creme's now basking in the oven.

Ingredients:

Liquid: extrafine cooking alcohol (96%) of vegetable origin, natural and nature identical flavours

Sugar: glucose syrup, sugar, icing sugar

the kits is supposed to contain a spray nozzle and measuring cup which were missing from my box. the box was still factory sealed so i'm assuming this is a problem with cookal packaging process rather than my local supplier, but will phone the supplier shortly. 1 dosage of the liquid is 6 sprays, and I think spraying will give a more even coverage than pouring liquid over the top, so will find a spray bottle around the house to dose it with. Not for many hours though sadly, cos i don't have anything to speed up the chilling process..

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jrshaul   

Corn syrup, sugar, and powdered sugar? That's it? I had assumed some sort of clever polysacchride; this is stuff I keep in my kitchen.

Out of curiosity, what does the alcohol taste like?

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LesleyC   

Yes, there is nothing really special about the sugar. It is a pale colour, but not quite as white as white sugar. None of it is as fine as powdered sugar, so I'm assuming that they have caramelised the sugars, let them set and ground them up, not very finely.

The alcohol tastes quite strongly caramelly, and obviously very paint strippery.

On the top of the dessert after flaming, there is no alcohol flavour at all, and the caramel flavour of the liquid mixes quite nicely with the caramelliness of the sugar.

If I could get my hands on ever clear over here, I would probably have a go with a mixture of everclear and some caramel essence, and would do the caramelise, set and grind thing with the sugar.

Quite apart from the visual appeal of the flames, I really like the way the sugar melts and sets with this method. Its evenly coloured across the entire surface, no bits darker than others etc. From now on my blowtorch is for setting the. alcohol alight rather than for bruleeing the creme brulee.

Last night I used 4ml liquid per pot. Next time I think I'll go with 2ml,

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This is good to know, I like the idea of serving desserts flambeed and having the flames actually doing something meaningful for the dish.

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jrshaul   

For the sake of inquiry, could you try the powdered sugar mix with straight everclear? The alcohol's flavoring is much more difficult to duplicate than powdered praline.

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LesleyC   

that is an experiment someone in the US will have to do. There seems to be some doubt as to whether it is legal or not in the UK, confiscations at customs, and certainly no online suppliers of the stuff.

What is the teeny percentage of everclear that is not alcohol made up from?

Could this if it ever come back into stock be a substitute (the rectified spirits, can be used as a liqueur base implies flavourless) or would this higher percentage vodka be a better substitute?

.

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Either of those products should work well enough, I think. They may not extract flavor quite as well from whatever you decide to infuse with, but, they should flame very well. -And, they are both better than regular vodka.

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