Oatmeal brulée is today’s breakfast. Nowhere as sweet as the classic crème brulée dessert, it’s festively suitable for a party of 6 people or a crowd for brunch, or when you are serving a special breakfast in bed to your sweetheart.
Steel cut oatmeal is my number one breakfast. My version (which I’ve posted before, see Snowy day, hot breakfast) usually includes a small portion of quinoa for texture and protein. Most mornings I use no more than 1/2t (at most) of maple syrup drizzled on top, garnished with a couple of crushed pecans.
Making a brulée requires enough sugar on top to melt and pool, then cool into a crusty top. You will get a better crust, more like the familiar dessert, crème bruleé, if you use 1 t of sugar per ramekin. Cutting back will still give you a slight sweet crunch. You can skip the maple syrup to reduce the sweetness a little. But I like the stickiness and essence of maple that even a mere drizzle can provide, so I use less sugar.
All the steps can be prepared a day or two ahead, so in the morning breakfast is quick. Add the sugar just before broiling. You want crystals, not dissolved sugar.
Serve with a bright fresh fruit salad with creamy textures like mango, raspberries, banana, avocado and more slivered pears
One point to make about equipment is that 6 oz. ramekins will hold about 1/3 c serving in total. It’s a size I like for desserts, and works well for a lighter breakfast. If you have a hungrier crowd, go with 8 oz. ramekins (you can get a set of 12 for as little as $35. Or watch for them at yard sales and thrift stores).
Use any recipe you like for the steel cut oatmeal.
Dice and sauté pears: 30 minutes
Cook oatmeal: 45 minutes (or use the overnight method)
Set up and broil: 15 minutes
Yields 6 – 6oz ramekins
1.5 c cooked oatmeal
2 ripe pears
¼ t high quality cinnamon
1 T butter
2 t maple syrup
4 – 6 t sugar
Peel, core and coarsely dice pears. Melt 1 T of butter in a skillet, add pears and sauté on medium-low until the turn slightly translucent and are tender, about 15 minutes, sprinkle with cinnamon. They should retain their shape, not becoming too soft. Set aside (These may be prepped several days ahead and kept in the fridge in a covered container. Warm before serving)
Set ramekins on a cookie sheet.
Have ingredients heated and waiting. Heat the broiler (about 450 f) and set oven rack in top position as you prepare the individual servings.
Add about 1 T of diced sautéed pears to bottom of each ramekin. Top with hot cooked oatmeal (about ¼ c). Smooth the surface with the back of a spoon, you don’t wan hills and valleys so you get an even crust with no charred points. Evenly distribute drizzled maple syrup and sprinkle with sugar.
With a damp cloth wipe the edges of your ramekins (this is a purely aesthetic step – any sugar or oatmeal on the edge will burn). If you are skilled with a kitchen torch you can use that instead of broiling.
Place tray with ramekins in oven, under broiler. Broil for 3 minutes, check to see if you have caramelization yet, return to oven for another minute and check again. You may need 5 minutes total to melt all the sugar; it should be bubbling and golden but not burned. Want to test t make sure it’s crisp? Do not touch the surface with a bare finger – lightly tap it with the back of spoon.
Remove from oven; carefully transfer very hot ramekins to serving plates. Serve while hot.
Recipe can be doubled or tripled. Can be made ahead and put together when ready to serve, or frozen in ramekins, without the sugar topping. Defrost and bring to room temperature before broiling.