engines of gastronomy

Savoy's Branding Iron Is Not Cruel to Crème Brûlée

savoy brand

It doesn't feel anything.Photo: Melissa Hom

In most restaurants, crème brûlée is a year-round dessert, but that's not the case with Savoy. The crème brûlée branding iron is heated in the fireplace. That's right: a crème brûlée branding iron. Savoy is defiantly old-school, and refuses to use a butane torch to brown the surface of its custard. Says owner Peter Hoffman, “It adds a nice ‘fireplace flavor’ to the dessert — a subtle taste of wood and smoke that’s infused into the sugar. With a butane torch, you can definitely caramelize the sugar; but you can’t get that fireplace flavor.” There's even a pleasant side effect to the iron's use: A sweet, marshmallowy aroma briefly wafts across the room, no doubt inspiring other diners to order the same thing. Get your branded brûlée this weekend and next. After that, the fireplace goes cold for the season.

Related: Annotated Dish: Savoy’s Cassoulet

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