The Second Storm

“This is the worst winter ever!”

“You do realize it’s still early November, right?”

To that I could only groan, burying my frozen face as deeply into my wind-whipped hair as the paltry jacket hood would allow. Flecks of snow and tiny, sharp pieces of hail battered us head-on as we climbed uphill. It was a silly mistake, really, underestimating the power of the latest apocalyptic weather predictions while overestimating the strength of the car’s tires. Everything would have been just peachy if we had stayed inside, tending the pumpkin seeds in the oven and putting off our trip to the store until morning. We were just too ambitious.

Our grave error in judgement came into clear focus as the car slid slowly down hill, hugging the curves just fine but continuing along without consulting the driver. It was this very Curve of Death that got me last year, so my mom smartly stepped up to man the wheel. Thus, we were in this together, assessing the situation minute by minute with carefully chosen words, attempting not to alarm one another. Eventually the bottom of the slope met our gently free falling vehicle, and it was game over. Nothing could have convinced those wheels to grip and carry us home. The only choice was to set the hazard lights blinking, abandon ship, and trudge a mile home. There are certainly far worse outcomes, but I can’t say it’s exactly how I wanted to spend my evening, nor the most fun challenge to tackle in open high heeled shoes.

Naturally, the pumpkin seeds we left for “just a moment” were roasted to an extra-dark shade of doneness… Otherwise known as burnt.

So what was it that compelled me to suggest leaving the warm, safe house in the first place? Some matter of pressing urgency, a critical need that needed to be addressed immediately?

Oatmeal. Pre-cooked and frozen steel-cut oatmeal from Trader Joe’s, if I must be humiliatingly precise. I never meant to get so impossibly hooked on the stuff, regarding it as a novelty at first but now depending on it for a daily fix. Every single day for at least three years now, this is the stuff that gets me out of bed in the AM hours. Proper oatmeal cookery continues to elude me, and the time required for this morning meal would otherwise be prohibitive. At least, that’s what I tell myself as I reach for a 4 – 6

th and 5th box on my weekly Joe’s run.

No more. After this little incident, I’m determined not to be completely dependent on Joe to satisfy my craving. Better yet, I can make something that he can’t put in a box, something that can’t be bought, and will hardly take any additional time. It’s all thanks to my handy pressure cooker that it’s possible, and completely painless. Toss ingredients in, set the timer, and in mere minutes the oats are tender, pleasantly chewy, and creamy all at once. A crisp caramelized sugar topping puts standard steel-cut oats on a whole new level, perfect for a holiday breakfast, brunch, or just any day that a treat is in order. Straddling that fine line between healthy oats and indulgent custard, its far richer than the stuff from the freezer aisle, but still something to feel good about getting a second helping of. With or without the added thrill of a brûléed top crust, oats have never had it so good.

Yield: 4 - 6 Servings

Steel-Cut Oat Brûlée

Steel-Cut Oat Brûlée

Tender, pleasantly chewy, and creamy all at once, these decadent oats straddle that fine line between healthy breakfast and indulgent treat. A crisp caramelized sugar topping puts standard whole grains on another level, perfect for a holiday breakfast, brunch, or just any day that a hearty morning start is in order.


  • 1 3/4 Cups Plain Non-Dairy Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Raw Cashews
  • 1/2 Cup Quick-Cooking Steel Cut Oats
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Brûlée Topping:

  • 3 Tablespoons Dark Brown Sugar, Firmly Packed
  • 1 Teaspoon Water


  1. First, place the non-dairy milk and cashews in your blender and thoroughly puree, until completely smooth. This will create a thicker, richer “milk” to cook the oats in. If you don’t have a high-speed blender, soak the cashews for 4 – 6 hours beforehand so that they break down more readily. Otherwise, you may also substitute 2 cups of full-fat coconut milk or vegan creamer for the two ingredients and skip this step altogether.
  2. In your pressure cooker, combine the blended cashew creme, oats, salt, and maple syrup, and stir well. Bring to high pressure and cook for 11 minutes, and then let the pressure fall naturally (natural release) until the seal is broken and the lid can be opened. Mix in the vanilla extract.
  3. Divide the cooked oats equally between 4 – 6 ramekins, and let cool to room temperature. The oatmeal can be refrigerated and stored for up to 5 days at this point, frozen for 3 – 4 months, or Brûléed right away. If using frozen oats, allow them to fully thaw first, and if using chilled oats, allow them to come back up to room temperature.
  4. Mix together the brown sugar and water to create a thick sugar paste. Spread 1 – 2 teaspoons over the tops of each ramekin filled with oats, to evenly coat the surface. Place the ramekins under a hot broiler set to high, and cook until the sugar bubbles and caramelizes. Serve immediately, with berries or sliced bananas if desired.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 185Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 188mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 0gSugar: 26gProtein: 5g

28 thoughts on “The Second Storm

  1. Oh my darling heart! At least we know that you always look smokin’ hot in those high heels of yours. And cashews and maple syrup? Why, I could almost feel that you made this recipe just for me. Which you clearly did, because I am you and you are me. xoxo

  2. Oatmeal everyday for the last three years! That must be some oatmeal. I’ve never had the TJ’s pre-cooked variety, but now I’m afraid to buy it.

    As for the winter, I feel your pain. Luckily, we haven’t had any treacherous conditions here yet, but I can relate to the urge to go grocery shopping despite the outside weather.

    This oatmeal brulee looks fantastic though. By the looks of it, I could see myself eating that everyday. Must try for the next time I have breakfast company.

  3. oh no.. i hear ya about the free fall. we’ve done that every december in seattle. even the downtown slopes are not cleaned up by the non snow expecting city. so glad that u guys are safe. Take care and stay warm and safe
    i love this dressed up oatmeal,,! i am not a fan of oatmeal. i cant imagine eating that gooey mixture for 3 years:) i’d probably eat all that delicious top and leave the rest:)

  4. Gotta say that oatmeal lesson came hard! Sometimes it’s just not worth the effort to get something premade…lesson learned? Fashion is something that we all fall victim to at one time or other…my own shoe lesson (which I must admit I still haven’t learned from…) was to don a pair of spanky new red Doc Martins and spend a day wandering around in abject misery with twin blisters the size of my palm on each heel that burst miday…and another shoey fashion DUH moment was when we headed off to another state on a plane to wander around an International Garden Show knowing FULL WELL that it was a complete day of walking and wearing some enormously heavy gorgeous shoes that almost killed me (and Steve who almost had to carry me for the last few hours and I am NOT light! ;) ). Do we women ever learn? Nope…just get used to the pain ;). BUT…your pain leads to our pleasure? This recipe is a triumph! (So does that make us all Sadists for enjoying the results of your pain?!!!!)

  5. I have never pressure cooked my oatmeal before but I have a friend who swears by her slow cooker for her steel cut oats. Wow that caramelized topping just yum.

  6. Oh my friend, come and have some of the meagre summer we are having in Australia! Your fall sounds quite harsh!
    stay warm with your delish oatmeal!

    Choc Chip Uru

  7. I’ve been known to venture out of the house during unsafe conditions to get my breakfast fix I totally get it. It’s my favorite meal of the day after all! This creme bruleed oatmeal looks amazing. I would head over to your place in a blizzard to get me some of this!

  8. What a coincidence! I was in Trader Joe’s this morning debating whether or not to buy those frozen packaged steel cut oats but I decided against it. This recipe looks great but I wonder whether the quick cooking steel cut oats are as nutritious as the long cooking ones. I make overnight steel cut oats in my slow cooker. This does look like a yummy recipe with the creme brulee topping. Well done!

  9. Breakfast never looked so good. I got really cooked on baked oatmeal after I saw it a year or two ago on Chocolate Covered Katie. I normally make 3 or 4 at a time in tart shells and microwave them in the morning. They generally even hold up well enough to eat like a pop tart while I drive to the bakery at 5am!

  10. Sorry to hear about your pumpkin seeds (and the weather) but that oatmeal brûlée looks absolutely beautiful. I am in awe of your ideas sometimes– so original, yet they seem so obvious after the fact. (Like this is the next step in the Natural Evolution of Oatmeal.)

    I’m also pretty amazed that you got that sheen with a broiler and not a torch!

  11. What a nightmare, I’m so glad you are both ok! I fear for what the rest of this winter brings us. (Personally I’m selfishly praying for NO March snow storms!)

    If you can believe it, I have yet to make steel cut oats. I do have a bag in the pantry, though, and all the recent slow cooker recipes and now your brueleed version are providing plenty of inspiration.

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