Japanese caramel custard pudding is called “Purin”. It is similar to the classic creme caramel or flan. Purin calls for only a few ingredients and is easy to make. No special and oriental ingredients nor equipment required. So people outside of Japan can easily cook Japanese sweets right at home!
What is Purin?
Purin is a poplar Japanese custard dessert loved by both children and adults. This dessert in Japan is called “custard purin” not “pudding” because the way you pronounce an ‘r’ in Japanese sounds a bit like a ‘d’. It is so popular that you can buy them from any supermarkets and convenience stores in Japan. And this is the recipe for us not living in Japan but who still want to taste delicious Japanese sweets at home.
How to make caramel sauce?
You need sugar and water to make caramel sauce for Purin. Place sugar and pour water in a small saucepan over medium heat. It is not hard to make but you need to get a few things correctly.
- Dissolve the sugar and do not stir.
- The water colour will start to change at 8-10 minutes, when it changes beautiful amber colour, turn the heat off. Because it keeps cooking and if you miss the timing you might burn the caramel.
Obviously, the name “Purin” is from the word pudding. But the pudding in western countries and Japanese purin are quite different, they are not the same thing. Japanese pudding “Purin” is more like creme caramel and flan. Japanese custard pudding is very smooth. So when mixing eggs, sugar and milk, it needs to be strained before pouring the mixture into the pudding molds.
The texture and flavour hang in a delicate balance of three ingredients; eggs, sugar and milk. So it is critical to use the right amount of each ingredient. Eggs make the Purin set, but we don’t want too much eggy taste. The sugar amount decides firmness of the purin. The fat content of the milk affects the richness of purin flavour.
For the rich flavour and to support local dairy farmers, I use Norco brand 100% jersey milk. It has 4.9g of total fat in 100ml. I like this milk even just drinking it on its own is delicious. It is so creamy and makes the best Japanese purin in my humble opinion. If you don’t live in Australia, and can’t get this milk, use full-fat milk at least.
How to set the Purin?
The technique to set the purin is called a bain marie. It is fancy name for hot water bath. And we are going to use this method with a frying pan and a lid or use a large pot with a lid. The custard is set in low and gentle heat. I used 26cm (10 inch) frying pan and mold size is 7 cm ( 2.7 inch ) in diameter, 6 cm (2.3 inch) in height. It required about 750ml- 1 litre boiling water to add so that the water covers about 2cm from the bottom of the pan.
Place molds filled with egg mixture into the frying pan. If you place a kitchen cloth underneath, the molds will not move around easily but you need to add an extra minute to cook. Pour water and bring it to boil, then turn the heat down to low and place a lid with kitchen cloth in between in order to avoid steam water drops on top of the purin. The cloth will catch the water.
Turn the heat off after 3-5 minutes on very low heat. Do not open the lid, keep it intact for 15 minutes. In this way even after the heat is turned off, the egg mixture will be cooking with the residual heat in the pan. We want to avoid the egg mixture from overcooking and becoming spongy and porous.
How to serve Japanese Purin
Japanese purin tastes best when it’s cold. You can serve Japanese Purin out of the molds or you can also serve it in jars like the above photos on the right. Both ways the caramel sauce goes the bottom of the molds or jars. I recommend making it an hour or so before you want to serve it so it can chill in the fridge.
Q: Can I replace milk with almond/rice/hazelnut milk?
A: Yes, you can but remember fat content of the regular milk adds to the rich flavour.
Q: I don’t have a cooking scale?
A: You can choose metric or US measurements. Just click which you will use underneath the ingredients list in the recipe card. You can also change the servings as well. Click the serving number, a sliding scale appears so you just slide it left or right.
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- frying pan
- 400 ml milk
- 3 large eggs
- 60 g sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
- 70 g sugar
- 50 ml water
- Place the sugar and water (for the caramel sauce) in a small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.
- Keep cooking over medium heat till the sugar and water mixture turns into a beautiful amber colour.
- Turn the heat off and pour the sauce into 4 pudding molds.
- Place milk in a jug and microwave for a 1 a minute and a half to heat the milk up.
- Add the egg, sugar and vanilla essence into a mixing bowl and whisk all together.
- Add warm milk into the egg mixture gradually and stir to combine them all together.
- Strain the custard base using a sieve or strainer.
- Divide and pour the custard mixture into the 4 pudding molds (on top of the caramel sauce).
- Place the molds in a shallow flying pan and add about 750-1000ml water over high heat.
- Bring it to boil then turn the heat down to low, wrap the pan lid in a dry towel and put the lid on and leave it for simmer for 3-5 minutes. *1
- Turn the heat off and leave it for 15 minutes( do not open the lid).
- Take the molds out of the frying pan and allow them cool down.
- Refrigerate the molds for at least 1 hour.
- Serve it on a plate.