This silky no-bake Japanese purin is made with a creamy, melt in the mouth custard poured over a layer of rich homemade caramel. Best of all, it's easy to make and doesn't require any special ingredients!
Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Sudachi Recipes earn a small percentage from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. See disclaimer for more info.
What is "Purin"?
Purin is the Japanese version of custard pudding, a sweet custard-jelly dessert served with a thin layer of rich caramel. This dessert is popular with kids and adults all over the world and is one of Japan's most common sweet treats.
You might know it in your home country as flan, creme caramel, custard pudding, caramel custard or even another name. In Japan, we simply call it "purin".
All I know is that purin is one of Japan's most loved desserts, you can find it in any convenience store or supermarket and there are many varieties to choose from!
History of Purin
It is said that pudding was introduced to Japan in the late Edo period (1603-1868) and early Meiji period (1868-1912). The name "purin" (プリン) comes from the word "pudding" which was mentioned in a document from around 1872.
Pudding was then gradually offered at restaurants, and its popularity spread. In fact, it became so popular that by the 60's it also became a common dessert to eat at home, either homemade or ready-made from supermarkets. Later on, not only steamed puddings but also baked puddings and puddings set with gelatine were introduced, expanding the variety of pudding textures.
To this day, purin is one of the most common desserts in Japan!
Different Types of Purin
- Purin (プリン) Standard purin made with eggs, milk and caramel then set with gelatine. Some recipes contain cream too to make it extra thick and decadent.
- Mushi Purin (蒸しプリン) Steamed purin (the texture is a bit firmer than regular purin)
- Yaki purin (焼きプリン) Purin baked in the oven
- Katame Purin (固めプリン) Firm purin (often turned out onto a serving dish with the caramel sitting on top)
- Nameraka Purin (なめらかプリン) Soft purin served in a container (usually with the caramel sitting at the bottom)
My recipe is nameraka purin. The texture is extra soft and silky, it is only just set and needs to be served in a container because it's too soft to hold its shape on its own. It rich, creamy and melts in the mouth. It's seriously good!
Japanese Pudding Cups
One of the most iconic features of Japanese style purin, is the cups that they are served in. They're almost like miniature milk bottles.
If you live in Japan, it's easy to find these purin cups in 100 yen stores (Japanese version of a dollar store) but if you live outside of Japan, you can also order them from Amazon like these ones here.
I recommend using glass jars rather than plastic because in my recipe, I pour hot caramel into the container.
This recipe makes about 550-600ml of purin mixture, I recommend 6 x 100ml purin cups (3.5 fluid oz) for the best caramel to custard ratio, but you can also make 4 x 150ml (5.5 fluid oz) containers.
Other popular purin flavours in Japan
Because purin is such a popular dessert, it's only natural that we have a wide variety of flavours! Some of them are available all year around, others appear depending on the season. For example, pumpkin and chestnut are often found in Autumn whereas mango and coconut can be found in summer.
- Sweet potato
- Black sesame
All of these interesting flavours just goes to show how much Japanese people love purin! You can experiment with the flavours by switching out the vanilla essence for something else!
Ingredients for making purin
In this recipe I use the following ingredients:
- Granulated sugar
- Pasteurised eggs
- Whole milk
- Double cream (38% fat or more)
- Vanilla essence
- Powdered gelatine
I recommend using pasteurised eggs for this recipe because the eggs will not be fully cooked. Pasteurised eggs are treated so that they are safe to eat raw, all eggs in Japan are treated. While the eggs will be heated with hot milk in my recipe, I prefer to use pasteurised eggs for extra peace of mind.
You can also pasteurise your own eggs at home by heating water to exactly 60°C (140°F) and adding the eggs for 3 minutes 30 seconds. You will need to keep the temperature constant and then place them in cold water once the time is up. If the heat goes over 61°C (142°F) the eggs will start to cook, so an accurate thermometer is vital for this task. The temperatures and egg preparation advice is taken from the information provided by the American egg board website.
Whole milk and double cream
Using whole milk and double cream together make the purin rich without being too heavy.
I personally use powdered gelatine as its the most accessible for me. I recommend measuring out the milk and sprinkling the gelatine powder over the surface, this will prevent the gelatine from clumping together.
Mix it well and allow to bloom for about 5 minutes. The act of "blooming" essentially means allowing the liquid to be absorbed evenly into each granule, helping it melt better once heated. This will help prevent lumps of hard gelatine in your mixture.
Tips and tricks to make the best Japanese purin
Purin is a simple recipe, but here are a few tips I use to ensure success every time!
Making caramel is probably the hardest part of this recipe. My top tips for fail free caramel are:
- Heat on medium/medium-low so that it doesn't brown too quickly and burn
- Do not stir (this can cause crystallisation), instead, tilt the pan from time to time
- Add the water one third at a time (this cools the caramel and prevents burning)
- Stand back and wear oven gloves when you add the water as it might sizzle and splash.
- Pour the caramel into the containers while it's still hot
Melt the gelatine in the milk
To avoid adding unnecessary liquids to the purin and watering it down, I like to melt the gelatine in the milk. This means you have to be careful not to overheat the milk, otherwise it might scold and create an unpleasant taste. At the same time, you need to heat it enough so that the gelatine powder melts.
Milk is best heated to around 70℃ (Approx 160°F). It's also important to note that gelatine starts to lose its setting properties if heated above 75℃.
I start by microwaving the milk for 2 minutes at 600W. Mix it and then keep heating in 20-30 second intervals, mixing each time. This should stop the milk from getting too hot, and allows you to check to see if the gelatine is melted properly.
Alternatively, you can heat the milk in a saucepan on a medium-low heat and remove it from the heat when small bubbles start to form around the edge.
After microwaving the milk for 2 minutes, heat in 20-30 second intervals stirring each time. This will help prevent scolding the milk. Alternatively, heat it in a saucepan for more control.
Temper the eggs
Once the eggs are whisked with the cream, we add the hot milk. If you pour it all in one go, the eggs might cook and become scrambled. To avoid this, I temper the eggs by adding a little bit of hot milk at a time. In the beginning, less is better, add it as gradually as possible while gently whisking.
Prevent scrambled eggs by adding the hot milk little by little.
Strain the mixture
Once you've mixed everything, pour through a fine mesh sieve, This will catch any lumps of gelatine powder or egg that you might have missed, making your custard extra smooth and silky.
For the smoothest, silkiest purin, be sure to pour it through a sieve before pouring it into your containers!
Purin generally takes about 3-4 hours to set enough to eat. If possible, refrigerate over night for the best texture and flavour.
Purin can be kept in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
Freezing is not recommended.
Check out the video, How to Make Silky Japanese PurinPrint
Step by step recipe
I've never tried flan in the U.S but I've heard that Japanese purin is similar to Mexican flan. Most Japanese purin you find in convenience stores and supermarkets are made with gelatine.
They have similar ingredients, but purin is usually set with gelatine or baked so its texture is a little firmer than custard itself.
I recommend eating my recipe within 2 days as it contains raw eggs.
I haven't tried it myself so I can't recommend it.