What Is It?
A very tiny hair dryer for a very tiny head. Please know that I’m joking. If you use it as a hair dryer, it will light your head on fire. And, flames from the side of your face are only funny if you’re Madeline Kahn. This is actually a wee blowtorch used for cooking.
How Does It Work?
A bit awkwardly after all of the safety measures are taken. You have to pull back on the red bit on the side, press down on the back lever, and then push the back button in to get the flame a throwin’. Then, you can spread fire like it’s going out of style.
Do I Really Need It?
If you make a ton of crème brûlée, sure. Although, you could just use the broiler on your stove to melt the sugar and create that wonderful shell. (And, I suspect if you are making a ton of crème brûlée, that’s probably what you do.) It’s also good for getting those brown tops on meringue.
But thanks to Martha Stewart, I find a blowtorch especially useful for taking skin off of fish. Running a blowtorch over a fish with skin will “tighten” it up. (You can sear tuna this way if you have sushi grade fish laying around.) If you make a few slits before starting the flame, you can actually use the blowtorch to pull the skin off the fish. Way less messy than the knife method I was taught.
So, to answer the question: Probably not. Now that I have one, I kind of want to get a big industrial sized one similar to those we had in cooking school. Power on and the flame is ready. Not the safest kitchen implement, but totally cool to have around.
Where Can I Buy My Very Own?
You can get the wee ones online. But be forewarned that in most cases, when buying online you will have to purchase the butane separately. Something about hazardous materials and shipping and blah blah blah. I guess they don’t want mail trucks to spontaneously erupt into flames.
You can get the big dogs at Home Depot or Lowe’s. (Seriously, that’s the kind we used in culinary school. I’m so surprised that the building is still standing after the night we made liquor-based compound butters and meringue where we were drinking more of the liquor than was actually making it into the butter.)