Purin: Japanese Pudding

Don’t you just love to bite into something light and creamy? Like custard or pudding, silky smooth and mildly sweet? I certainly do. When I was a little kid I used to go over to my grandmother’s house and she usually had little ramekins covered in cling wrap in her fridge. It might be chocolate or vanilla pudding, or maybe her favorite, tapioca with pieces of orange floating in it. Whatever it was, it was sure to be delicious and I would sit on her coach, watching Murder’s She Wrote and savoring every bite. I always think of my grandmother when I make pudding. 

I saw the recipe for purin, Japanese pudding, on Japanese Cooking 101 a few months ago. It looked delicious and simple, but I didn’t try making it until the other day when I wanted something sweet. Aside from the fact that I love pudding and Japanese desserts, my mother has a cat named Perrine, pronounced the same way. How could I resist? 

In Japan, purin is a hugely popular treat, available in most bakeries. Many people also make it at home, either from scratch or from a packet. It’s similar to a Mexican flan, silkier than your standard custard. The caramel sauce that is baked right onto the top of the purin is not only tasty, but gives the whole thing a beautiful finish.

Nobody in my house drinks milk so I stopped at the store and bought one of the 16 once single serving bottles (the exact amount needed). Once home I made the caramel, which went against everything I’ve ever been taught about making caramel, since they implicitly say not to stir. (If you watch the video, you’ll see me nudging the pot like a concerned mother.) However, the women of Japanese Cooking 101 were, of course, correct and the caramel came out perfect. 

I couldn’t find the ramekins, so I had to use my popover tins, unsure of how the hell I would get the purin out again. If when you pour the caramel into the ramekins you think it looks like a lot, don’t worry, only a thin layer will come out, which is how it should be. 

I got a little distracted while I scalded the milk and the next thing I knew it had boiled over. A total rookie mistake that I should have known better than to fall into. I went back to the store and was rewarded by the look that the cashier gave me. “Man this girl must love milk,” he was probably thinking. 

Trying to look cute and get a little custard.

Trying to look cute and get a little custard.

After that, it was as easy as custard usually is. Just a few more ingredients and into the oven in a pan of water. The hardest part was waiting for them to set in the fridge for three hours!

Getting it out did pose a bit of a problem and would certainly have been easier if all the cups weren’t connect. However, I was able to wrangle them out, and they were even pretty enough to photograph. The added frustration was worth it though because the silky custard was the consistency of heaven. The caramel sauce on top of it has a lightly bitter sweetness that hits the sweet tooth light a loving embrace. Even Perrine, the cat, tried to get some of it off my plate. 

A scrumptious treat, that anyone would love, which can be made in about an hour. It would be perfect for a dessert after a dinner party, and is sure to excite admiration in your guests!

Until next time, watch your milk like a hawk and don’t let it boil!