Let me start by saying that the creme brulee was incredibly tasty. And no one was seriously injured.
You see, Christopher makes the best vanilla creme brulee that I've ever had.
This is just one of a list of foods which Christopher makes the best of. I don't mean to say that "I like hamburgers and he makes hamburgers, so of course I like his hamburgers." (For the record he doesn't make hamburgers.)
What I mean to say is that I have basically stopped trying to eat creme brulee anywhere else, because none of it compares to Christopher's. This is also a problem I have with pasta with red sauce, lemon chicken, and chocolate spice cookies, to name just a few things.
The creme brulee, though, is kind of a once-a-year thing. He makes it for Christmas Eve dinner with his family. Last year, something went wonky and the batch curdled. Yes, we had other desserts to eat, but it was a sad Christmas Eve with no cracking of the sugar crust on the creme brulee and no scraping of the vanilla flecks from the bottom of the ramekins.
We were worried that we were going to be brulee-less again this year. The oven once again did something weird (we're guessing that the gas oven is not regulating well, and is overheating, then overcooling - I had problems with some cookie batches this year, too), and the first batch of creme brulee went into the trash. The second batch got cooked in the toaster oven, though, and came out perfectly.
But, as we all know, the best part of a creme brulee is the "brulee." If there's no carmelized/burnt sugar on the top to crack with the back of your spoon, there's really no point to it.
We've got a kitchen torch for just that reason, but Christopher's dad gave us his larger torch (the kind you find in a tool box - the kind that Julia Child used to use) a couple of years ago, and since that was good to go, we took that with us when we went to dinner tonight.
Christopher set about lighting the torch to brulee the creme, and the torch was acting up. There was only flame when the match was still lit in the "stream," and as he tried to adjust the flame, it flared a bit causing a bit of a flash and a little bit of a shock to pretty much everyone except Christopher, who just kept moving along as if this always happened. So we all ignored it.
Until... well... something went rather massively haywire with the gas and a leak seemed to start up around the valve where you adjust the amount of gas coming out of the tank. The flare up was kind of big and orange at that point. His sister gasped, and we all turned to see what was going on, just as Christopher tossed the (still lit, since he couldn't get to the dial to readjust the flame) torch into the stainless steel sink.
There was a bit of amazingly calm chaos after that, with lots of people trying to figure out the best way to put it out while keeping the dogs out of the way. (Note to EVERYONE out there: KITCHENS NEED FIRE EXTINGUISHERS! If you don't have one, buy one on Thursday as soon as the stores open.) Eventually, with the help of some kitchen tongs, the torch ended up upside down out in a snowbank in the front yard. Christopher singed some of the hair on his arm, and his dad got a slight - very mild - burn, but there were really no other signs of anything gone awry.
The creme went under the broiler to brulee, where the sugar melted and crisped up and darkened to just the right degree. And we all sat back down at the table and cracked the crust, and dug into the best creme brulee we'll have all year - or, now that it has a story attached to it - probably the best we'll ever have.
May your Christmas also be merry and bright - just not too bright.
C - j t m - R