In my past life, before I was the mother of two youngsters, I was someone who brunched. I brunched often, I brunched happily, I brunched with friends, I brunched alone. Now, as I would imagine is fairly typical, I almost never go out to brunch. Like, ever. I can’t even remember the last time I did, to be honest. No, brunching out in the world has become a thing of my past, at least for the time being, having now been replaced by busy, bustling breakfasts at home with my crew. I’m not complaining though; it’s a happy trade by all accounts.
I was talking with two of my girlfriends here in Indy recently, though, and they casually invited me to “do brunch” with them and, judging by my sudden, internal freak-out, you’d have thought that they’d just asked me to hop a flight to Morocco on a whim, or something. Okay wait, I thought to myself, making quick calculations of the hypothetical situation … Can I really dine out at 11:00 in the morning, partaking in a meal that involves bottomless mimosas?!? Could I? Should I? I will surely need to budget in time for a post-brunch nap . . . do I need a sitter? Is Lucas on call at the hospital then? Yes, I think he is. Can I even get a sitter in the morning on a Saturday?!
This is why I no longer do brunch out. Oy.
Brunching IN, however, is a concept with which I am totally familiar, as I think it is one of my very favorite meal genres of all time. The fact that I can fully indulge my utter obsession with sweet and savory flavor combinations at a meal that walks the line between breakfast and lunch is never lost on me, and I always love creating new “brunchy” dishes for my family to enjoy at home on the weekends. Enter, this incredibly delicious take on a simple bowl of oatmeal.
I first enjoyed and was introduced to the concept of oatmeal creme brûlée in Scottsdale, AZ about 10 years ago when I was there for a bachelorette weekend with my cousin Rachel. It was dreamy by all accounts, and the simple yet special bowl of bruleed oatmeal that I enjoyed on one of our mornings there has stuck with me ever since. It’s such a great idea and I’ve been making it now for years – people LOVE it. You can do this with any bowl of oatmeal you have on hand, really. Just be sure to broil them in oven-safe dishware and you’re good to go. Oh, and that’s right – we’re broiling these babies – no fancy torches needed.
I like to roast a couple of bananas to bring out their sweetness and to heighten their banana-ness (it’s a thing) and I stir that into the oatmeal base. By adding some nutty almond butter, cinnamon, vanilla, and luscious coconut cream (this is where the “creme” comes in), you wind up with an incredibly satisfying bowl of oatmeal that will please just about anyone, whether it’s brûléed or not. You can also swap out half of the granulated sugar for coconut sugar or maple sugar, as they are not refined and a bit healthier. You just will have to reduce the broiling time a bit, as they do tend to darken and liquify a bit faster.
And so. No matter the sugar, no matter the exact oatmeal you choose (mine or your favorite go-to bowl), this is a solid back-pocket breakfast or brunch idea that will give any restaurant brunch dish a run for its money. You might still need a nap though . . . don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Banana Bread Oatmeal Crème Brulee
- 2 large bananas
- 2 cups old-fashioned oats
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)
- 3 Tbsp almond butter I use Justin’s vanilla almond butter
- 1 cup coconut cream (canned; you can sub coconut milk)
- 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- Berries and sliced bananas for serving
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Place your bananas on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick spray and roast for 25 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and mash them up completely with a fork.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepot over medium heat, add 4 cups of water (or you can use milk) and the oats. Cook for 5 minutes, or until done. Turn off the heat and add the maple syrup, cinnamon, almond butter, coconut cream, vanilla, and the mashed roasted bananas. Stir to combine. Taste for flavors and adjust as you like.
Preheat your broiler and place the rack in the uppermost position. Transfer the oatmeal to small individual ramekins or crocks and top each with a generous layer of sugar – you want to cover the entire surface to get that crackling crust. It’s decadent but totally worth it!
Place the ramekins or crocks onto a large baking sheet and broil directly under the heat, until the sugar crust has browned nicely all over; about 5 to 6 minutes. You might want to rotate the ramekins or the baking sheet occasionally to allow for even cooking. (NOTE: the broiling time does vary quite a bit from oven to oven, so just keep an eye on them and take them out when they’re browned and bubbly. They will firm up as they cool a bit).
Top your oatmeal with sliced bananas and berries and serve warm (NOTE: these are best eaten right away).