Sunday, November 11, 2018

Ruth Reichl's Oatmeal Brûlée with Macerated Berries

 Sunday morning. Pajamas. Soft baked oatmeal. Creamy custard.
Handheld blowtorch. Crispety-crunchety sugar crust. Colorful berries. Morning glories.

I love oatmeal and when I laid eyes on this recipe I instantly became enamoured. Oatmeal with a crispety-crunchety sugar crust on top? How brilliant! I mean, why hadn't I thought of it before?

As I started putting the dish together I started to wonder about the custard. It seemed heavy with egg. How was this going to work out? Was the custard going to be creamy or eggy? I instantly knew that this dish would go one of two ways: absolutely delicious or not so great.

Consider a few things before making this dish. Find a shallow bowl, one that will produce a thin layer of oatmeal and a thin layer of custard. Pay attention to how thick your layer of custard is. You don't want a thick layer of custard here. Lastly, and most importantly, pay attention to how long you bake your dish. Times below are a guide. All ovens are different. The goal is to warm the custard and allow it to be cooked through where it is safe to eat, but also to remain somewhat creamy without setting. If you allow your custard to set, then you are going to have a layer of oatmeal topped with an odd eggy layer with sugar and berries on top, which is not so great! I know be..cause it happened to me!

I made this dish twice because I thought it was probably worth perfecting, and it was! My second try yielded perfection! Satisfying oatmeal with a creamy custard topped with a crunchy sugar crust and glorious berries. It's delicous fresh out of the oven and also cold straight out of the fridge! Try it and see for yourself.

Oatmeal Brûlée with Macerated Berries
Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook
by Ruth Reichl
Serves 4

3-1/4 cups water
1/4 cup plus 4 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 cups mixed berries, such as raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and quartered strawberries
1/4 cup Champagne 
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup very cold heavy cream
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
Special Equipment: a blowtorch

Macerate the Berries: Combine 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup granulated sugar in a small saucepan and heat over moderately high heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Gently stir together berries, Champagne, mint, and sugar syrup in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate, stirring occasionally, for at least 4 hours. *Berries can macerate for up to 1 day.

Put racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 400F.

Make the Custard: Whisk 1/4 cup cream in a small bowl until it just holds stiff peaks. Whisk together eggs, brown sugar, and remaining 14 cup cream in another small bowl, then gently whisk in whipped cream until smooth.

Assemble and bake the Brulees: Bring remaining 3 cups water and salt to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan. Stir in oats and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened and tender, about 5 minutes. Divide oatmeal among four flameproof soup plates or shallow bowls and smooth with the back of a spoon. Allow the oatmeal to cool slightly before pouring the custard on top or you will start to cook the egg in your custard. Pour custard over oatmeal. Put bowls on oven racks and bake, switching position halfway through baking, *careful not to let the custard completely set or it will become eggy, about 10 minutes. (Or transfer oatmeal to a very shallow 2-quart baking dish and cover with custard. Bake in middle of oven until set, 10 to 15 minutes.).

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon remaining granulated sugar evenly over each custard. Caramelize topping on one bowl at a time with a blowtorch, moving flame evenly back and forth, until sugar is melted and caramelized. With a slotted spoon, mound some berries in center of each brulee. Serve with remaining berries on the side.


  1. This does sound delicious. The next time I have an open bottle of champagne I will make this.

  2. OATMEAL CREME BRULEE. My breakfasts just got so much better.

  3. Wow, between this and the buttered oatmeal, I don't know which sounds more delicious!


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