Creme Brulee Oatmeal: Brunch or Dessert?

Who knew that oatmeal could be so sinfully sexy? I found my inspiration this past Sunday while having breakfast at Catal in Downtown Disney. They served creamy irish-cut oats with fresh fruit in a bowl, then sprinkled with sugar and gave it a quick torching.

The effect is similar to creme brulee and it struck me as a such a wonderful way to splurge on breakfast while keeping somewhat healthy. In reality, I knew that they made their oatmeal with heavy cream …. but I had already spent two days walking all over Disneyland while dodging baby strollers, so I felt I had earned it.

I love creme brulee and it’s my go-to dessert when dining out. Well, it used to be until I started eating all healthy (boo! hiss!). When I opened the Catal menu and saw “creme brulee oatmeal” for breakfast, I was giddy. The fact that it was oatmeal justified any amount of cream they may have used to make it. The creamy oatmeal was topped with a crunchy, caramelized sugar crust which added flavor and texture. It was divine!

Although oatmeal is my typical morning breakfast, I haven’t been terribly imaginative with it. I make it with water, cinnamon, and stir in dried fruits, yogurt, or chopped apples. I don’t vary it all that often and don’t really mind how repetitive it is. Creme brulee oatmeal has opened my eyes though and shown me that oatmeal can be improved.

The recipe below makes four ramekins and which quite honestly could pass for dessert. It’s creamy and sweet with bursts of flavor from the berries.

Creme Brulee Oatmeal
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
3 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
berries of choice
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon brown sugar

Normally, I cook my oatmeal in a pan on the stove and always use old-fashioned oatmeal (not the instant kind). I’ve heard you can use a rice cooker for oatmeal and decided try this method for cooking. To my rice cooker, I added the oatmeal, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. I set it to cook and walked away. Within 15-20 minutes, the cooker turned off and it was done.

It worked! The oatmeal was fully cooked and creamy. There was a slight crust on the bottom of the rice cooker bowl but it wasn’t too bad (hey, I didn’t have to stir anything so it was totally worth it). Some people have noted that their rice cookers had different reactions, so proceed with caution and follow your manufacturer’s directions.

Depending on how thin or thick you like your oatmeal, you can adjust the amount of liquid. This version makes a semi-thick oatmeal which I prefer.

I filled each ramekin about half full, then added a few raspberries and blueberries to each one. I then covered with the remaining oatmeal and leveled off each one to create a flat surface on the top.

I allowed the ramekins to cool for 15 minutes then refrigerated until ready to use. Preheat your oven broiler (and make sure it’s ready to go before moving on to next step). Mix together the two sugars until combined, then divide evenly over the four ramekins. Put the ramekins on a cookie sheet and place under the broiler for about 1 minute or until sugar is melted and golden brown. Remove and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving. Top with a few extra berries and enjoy.

My oven failed me and my broiler didn’t turn on. I had already sprinkled my sugar and when I returned to them about 10 minutes later, the sugar had soaked into the oatmeal and it didn’t develop a nice crust. Fortunately, I still had another ramekin in the refrigerator so I attempted it one more time with success.

This oatmeal is so delicious. I like it better than the version I had at Catal. You’ll notice that I didn’t add any sugar to the oatmeal as it cooked. The sugar topping adds plenty of sweetness and the berries inside become soft and supple from the heat of the oatmeal. The milk, vanilla and cinnamon elevate the flavor and give it the taste of creme brulee without all of the calories and fat.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Peter G August 12, 2008, 5:56 pm

    Ok..this is one clever dessert/breakfast dish! I love this concept and I imagine you could “spice” up the oatmeal in a number of ways. Well done Allen for taking healthy eating to the next level yet again!

  • L'aura L August 12, 2008, 6:06 pm

    Wow, as an oatmeal and creme brulee lover this looks like a winning combination. I might have to try it next time I’m at Downtown Disney.

  • kat August 12, 2008, 7:25 pm

    oh man I make steel cut oatmeal every morning & this would sure be a way to spice it up!

  • Manggy August 12, 2008, 8:22 pm

    No cream?! No egg yolks?! *faints*
    This is just astounding, Allen. Good job. I can’t believe there are hidden culinary treasures in Disneyland. It looks really delicious.
    My favorite way to have oatmeal is with plenty of condensed milk. Yeah, it’s terrible, I know.

    * I see the hidden Mickey in the first pic!

  • [eatingclub] vancouver || js August 12, 2008, 8:27 pm

    This is an oatmeal bowl (or ramekin) I can get behind. Of course it’s healthy! It’s oatmeal. ;)

    Love this idea and perhaps this would convert some of our oatmeal-dislikers into oatmeal-lovers.

  • Erin August 13, 2008, 7:34 am

    I just love things made in ramekins. What else do you suppose we can make in those cute little cups? Hmm…

  • PaniniKathy August 13, 2008, 10:28 pm

    A restaurant near me does a fantastic oatmeal brulee and I’ve always wanted to try making one. Yours looks so inviting!

  • Helen August 14, 2008, 1:16 am

    Nice idea Allen! I am a creme brulee addict too, even though I don’t eat many desserts, I can always fit one in! I think that all that walking plus the oatmeal factor means you definitely earned the cream.

  • SusanV August 14, 2008, 6:16 am

    This is such a great idea! I’m always up for a healthy breakfast that tastes like dessert, so I’ll have to give it a try.

  • Kevin August 14, 2008, 8:24 pm

    That looks good! I like the sound of making oatmeal like creme brulee.

  • C August 15, 2008, 8:04 am

    I am makin gthis at my house this weekend! Looks awesome!

  • Divya August 15, 2008, 2:56 pm

    Hey Allen, This is my first time on your blog, and great entries! I am into "anything & everything" that is sweet… big time, and of course if its healthy I waste no time trying it out. Will definitely cook this up sometime soon brunch, or dessert :)

    Divya

  • Esi September 13, 2008, 2:23 pm

    Oh wow! I just made this and it was oh so decadent and good. Thanks for the idea!

  • Doug September 25, 2008, 2:10 pm

    I haven’t tried this yet but am going to. You say to broil it for 1 minute until the sugar is melted. Is this enough time for the oatmeal to heat up?

  • Allen September 25, 2008, 5:54 pm

    Similar to creme brulee, the melting of the sugar on top is not intended to heat the custard or in this case the oatmeal. If you’d like the oatmeal to be warm, then you would need to heat the oatmeal before adding and melting the sugar. Hope this helps!

  • Sarah October 13, 2008, 9:48 am

    Just tried this and will definitely make it again.

    Doug I didn’t let my oatmeal cool as much before melting the sugar. Seems easier than cooking the oatmeal, letting it cool, and then heating it again.

  • Amanda October 17, 2008, 7:43 pm

    I made these for a brunch I was having with friends. They were amazing. I was a bit worried about serving cold oatmeal (but had a go anyway) and it worked so nicely. And it reminded me of how much I adore raspberries. Everyone else loved them too. Next time I am going to serve them up for desert. Thanks for the idea!!

  • Nikia November 7, 2008, 7:45 am

    i just love this idea! I was thinking about serving it for a breakfast Christmas party. But I had a question. After you refrigerated the oatmeal, was the few minutes in the broiler enough time to rewarm the oatmeal or was the oatmeal cold (and enjoyable that way)? Many Thanks!!

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