In some ways, the third date is the most pivotal. The first date is sort of blind; the second date is confirmation that, yes, you do find yourself attracted to this other human or it’s at least one more fair shot to gauge your connection. And by the third date, you both know there’s a reason—sexual or otherwise—that you agreed to see each other again. Third time’s a charm, right?
You don’t want to be clichéd and take her to another dinner spot, but you don’t know her well enough to plan a day of activities she might not even enjoy, like bicycling or museums or some three-hour foreign film where you can’t talk to or look at each other. Plus, you really want to be someplace where you can turn up the heat—literally.
So why not offer to cook her dinner at your place… with a blowtorch? It’s a bold, badass move she’ll boast about to her friends—and it certainly certifies your manliness. So we caught up with our good friends at Bernzomatic for some, er, surefire recipes. Flame on!
Of course, you’ve got some heavy foods coming out, so you might just want to offer her a light glass of wine. But if you’re really trying to show off, here are some torched cocktail options.
First things first, get the lady a drink. This Design Confidential|Bernzomatic creation is a modern take on an old classic, The Boston Sour.
3 oz. Bourbon
2 oz. fresh lemon juice
2 oz. simple syrup
1 tbsp. egg whites
1 tbsp. Limoncello
1 lemon for garnish
Using a shaker, add the Bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup and egg whites with ice. Shake well and strain into a cocktail coupe or double old fashioned. Then add a float of Limoncello, pouring it slowly over the back of a spoon so that it stays on the surface of the drink. Light up a micro torch and extinguish it after just a few seconds. Stick a lemon slice on there and boom, good to go.
The Smoking Gun
There’s a solid chance the lady doesn’t drink bourbon. So you might want to go with a safer choice like vodka. This Design Confidential|Bernzomatic cocktail recipe is sure to impress.
1 oz. coffee liqueur
1 oz. vodka
2 oz. half + half
6 oz. club soda
1 tbsp. Amaretto liqueur
Dash of cinnamon
Fill up a double old fashioned glass with ice. Pour the coffee liqueur, the vodka and the half + half overtop. Fill the remainder of the glass with club soda, leaving just about ¼ inch to spare. Then sprinkle a generous amount of cinnamon on top without mixing it in. Now the fun stuff: Slowly add a float of Amaretto by pouring ½ – 1 oz. over the back of a spoon near the edge of the glass. Light it up with a torch and then run the flame over the cinnamon to lightly toast that, too. You win, dude. You win.
Charred Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Cheese
Before you get to the main dish, you’ll want to serve up something she can savor while you’re still cooking. Charred Brussels sprouts are an easy and healthy-ish (mmm, let’s pretend) appetizer that’ll pair well with most meals, since vegetables go with everything. And bacon and cheese, c’mon.
½ cup bacon, cut into wide strips
4 cups Brussels sprouts, trimmed and split
½ tsp. thyme, picked and chopped
1 cup grated Gruyere or white cheddar cheese
Dash of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Slowly render bacon in a large sauté pan over medium-heat until it’s crispy. Remove it from the heat and then toss the Brussels sprouts in salted, boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes. Add in a bowl of ice water; when it’s cool, remove the sprouts and dry them on paper towels before placing them on a large, uncoated cookie sheet. Torch them until charred all over. Place the bacon pan back on medium heat, add the Brussels sprouts and cook for about 4 to 5 more minutes. Season with salt, pepper and thyme and spoon into a heat-proof dish. Top it off with grated cheese, which you can also toast until golden brown.
Michael Symon’s Seared Porterhouse Steak
You’ve had this one planned so you already put your steak in the freezer on a rimmed baking sheet last night. She’s munching on Brussels sprouts so you’ve got time to perfect this one.
2 2-inch Porterhouse Steaks
½ cup red wine
1 tbsp. whole grain mustard
3 tbsp. butter (softened)
¼ cup fresh Parsley (leaves torn)
Splash of vegetable oil
Dash of salt, pepper and parsley
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Generously season the steak with salt and pepper on both sides and brush it with vegetable oil. Place it on a resting rack on a sheet tray and, using that blowtorch, caramelize both sides for about 7 to 8 minutes each. Transfer the steak to the rimmed baking sheet lined with a cooling rack. Cook in the preheated oven for 30 to 60 minutes (dependent on freezing time). Stick an instant read thermometer in there and once it registers a temperature of 135 degrees, remove the steak from the oven. Allow it to rest for 10 to 12 minutes.
For the sauce, add the red wine to some whole grain mustard and whisk it together. Add the butter to emulsify the blend and finish it with parsley. Unless she’s a vegetarian, in which case you’ve already royally screwed up at the bacon, then there’s no shot she won’t enjoy this.
*If she is a vegetarian, which you should have figured out by your dinner date, you can totally torch some pizza or vegetables or, better yet, some vegetable pizza. Just brown the crust and cheese and roast the vegetables.
No one can pass up a dessert like this toasted custard, which may just be the reason blowtorches were invented. But you definitely prep this one ahead of time since it needs at least a few hours in the fridge. It’s cool, you can still do the torching in front of her.
1 cup cold heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp. + 1 tsp. granulated sugar and a pinch of salt
3 large egg yolks
½ tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. superfine sugar
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and boil a pot of water on the stove. Also place two 4 to 5 oz. ramekins in a roasting pan or rimmed banking sheet. In a small pot, combine ½ cup of heavy cream, sugar and salt and bring it to a boil over medium-heat while whisking. Remove it from the heat and let it cool for 5 minutes. Then add the remaining heavy cream to further cool the mixture. In a medium, heatproof bowl, whisk the yolks until smooth and well-combined. Add the vanilla extract and ¼ cup of the cream mixture while whisking. Continue to add the heavy cream mixture by the ¼ cup until the custard is smooth and a pale yellow. Strain it through a fine sieve into a 2-cup measuring cup. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until it is halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Then evenly divide the custard between the two ramekins. Place the roasting dish with the custards into the preheated oven and bake it all for about 20 to 40 minutes depending on the depth of your dishes, until it’s set but the center is still wobbly. Let it cool for an hour and then keep it in the fridge for at least two hours—and up to four days.
When you’re ready to serve your date, remove the custards from the fridge about 30 minutes prior. Sprinkle 2 tsp. of superfine sugar overtop and, using a blowtorch, move the flame across the surface in small circles until the sugar has melted and caramelized. Victory is yours.