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Photo: Claire Lower Whether you’re huddling around a roaring campfire, grilling a sumptuous piece of meat, or brûlée-ing a custardy crème, fire is sexy. Maybe it’s the element of danger involved in the exothermic process of combustion, or maybe it’s just because it looks cool, but breaking out a kitchen torch tells me we are about to experience something that is decadent, delicious, and a little bit excessive. The holidays are the perfect moment for such antics. It’s already a time of excess, with the pie, cookies, roasts, and booze, and I can’t think of a single reason you shouldn’t use the raw elemental power of The Flame to create crackling sugar crusts on all of your holiday treats. Pie and other desserts Let’s begin with the most obvious: Custardy pies. Pumpkin pie, sweet potato, cheesecake, and any pudding- or custard-based pie or tart will take extremely well to a brûlée-ing. Sprinkle on enough plain white sugar to just coat the top, then torch with a low, sweeping flame until it bubbles and caramelizes. Let set for a few minutes before cracking with a spoon. Cake a bit cloying? You can torch marshmallow fluff and meringue-based frostings (such as 7-minute frostin g or Italian meringue ) to give it some depth and a slight bit of char to balance out the sweetness. (I would avoid butter cream, however. It would most likely melt.) Meat and seafood Photo: Claire Lower As I have mentioned previously , slow-cooked pork belly is […]