Simple No-Bake Creme Caramel recipe that’s silky, creamy, and rich in flavors. Try this easy and popular Japanese dessert also called Purin and enjoy it with friends!
Growing up in Japan, three O’clock meant Oyatsu no Jikan, which means “time for snack” in Japanese. I ran home every day after school and looked forward to the day’s oyatsu (snack) that my mom prepared.
Once in a while, she would surprise my brother and me with our favorite No Bake Creme Caramel (Purinプリン). It’s a popular chilled dessert in Japan and I’m excited to share this easy homemade recipe with you.
What is Japanese Purin?
It is a custard dessert with a layer of soft caramel on top. As it’s enjoyed throughout the world, you may call this dessert custard pudding, crème caramel, caramel custard, flan or a different name in your language.
Normally the custard, the mixture of sugar, eggs, and milk (and sometimes heavy cream), is baked in the oven in a bain-marie [ban mah-REE] (hot water bath) before being chilled.
In Japan, we have 3 types:
- Yaki Purin (焼きプリン) – custard cooked in the oven.
- Mushi Purn (蒸しプリン) – custard is cooked on a stovetop in a steamer, or in a bain-marie in a pot or frying pan. Here’s my recipe.
- Purin (プリン) – custard is hardened with gelatin. *Please note that people also call “Purin” even though it’s baked or steamed.
I also want to mention that Japanese Purin is sometimes called “custard pudding” (カスタードプリン) in Japan, especially when emphasizing the custard component and comparing with other types below:
Purin – No-Bake Creme Caramel
Japanese “Purin” available at supermarkets and convenience stores in Japan is all made with gelatin. They are not baked or steamed. If you’re a big fan of those packaged Japanese custard pudding like Pucchin Purin (プッチンプリン), today’s recipe is for you!
The main difference from the classic Crème Caramel (Custard Pudding or Flan) is the texture. The texture of Purin made with gelatin is similar to gelatin desserts like panna cotta, or French dessert Bavarian Cream, or Bavaria (ババロア) (I hope the comparison helps). It’s silky smooth and slightly firm, with a gentle wobble.
The best part about custard pudding made with gelatin is that you can enjoy the silky panna cotta texture with rich custard flavors, just like the regular Crème Caramel.
This delicious dessert is a simple recipe, but it requires some techniques for the following important steps in the recipe.
- The caramel sauce has to have the right consistency so that when you invert the ramekin, the caramel sauce pours down nicely over the Purin.
- Gelatin has to be bloomed correctly so that the texture of Purin comes out perfectly.
- The custard mixture needs to be cooked to the correct temperature before being chilled.
I apologize for my lengthy recipe but I hope my tips are helpful. Please read the entire recipe at least once before trying to make the recipe.
This post was originally shared in 2011 and it was my guest post shared on my friend Jill’s blog Mad About Macarons’ Egg Yolk Recipes series. Jill makes amazing macarons and she published her macaron cookbooks (Mad about Macarons! and Teatime in Paris!).
With the leftover egg whites from this recipe, you can make Jill’s macarons! I hope you enjoy making this No-Bake Creme Caramel recipe.
No-Bake Creme Caramel (Japanese Purin)
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp water
- 2 Tbsp boiling water
- 4 sheets gelatin powder/sheet (I use these gelatin sheets and love them; 4 sheets are roughly 0.35 oz, 10 g; 1 pouch of Knox gelatin powder is 7 grams, about 2 ½ tsp, and you should be able to make this recipe with one pouch.)
- ¼ cup water
- 4 large egg yolks
- 80 g sugar (⅓ cup + 1 Tbsp to be precise)
- 1 ¾ cups whole milk (divided)
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Gather all the ingredients. You will also need 8 4-oz ramekins (4 oz is ½ cup or 120 ml).
- Prepare boiling water (you will only need 2 Tbsp) and a cold damp towel (for Step 4).
- Combine sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Gently shake the saucepan to evenly distribute sugar and do not touch until the mixture starts to turn golden brown. Gently swirl and tilt the pan again to distribute the mixture to have even color until it becomes amber color (like darker honey color), about 6 minutes.
- Immediately remove from heat to a cold damp towel and add 2 Tbsp boiling water. It will create a huge splash so please be careful. You can shield with a lid or wear oven mitts to protect your hands. Stir the saucepan to mix together. This will slightly thin out the caramel sauce and ensure that it doesn’t become too thick in the ramekins.
- Briefly dip the ramekins in hot water to warm up. This will prevent the caramel from solidifying (just shake off excess water and no need to dry).
- While caramel is still hot, evenly distribute the caramel among the 8 ramekins. Set aside and let the caramel thicken naturally (which is why the caramel will not mix with the custard mixture later).
- In a small bowl, cut 4 gelatin sheets into thin ½ inch (1.3 cm) strips. Add ¼ cup (60 ml) cold water and set aside for 5-6 minutes until the gelatin “blooms” (expands).
- If you’re using powder gelatin, combine 3 tsp (10 g) gelatin powder and ¼ cup (60 ml) water and let stand for 1 minute. Then microwave on high for 30-40 seconds and stir. It’s ready to use.
- Once gelatin sheets are bloomed, bring 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water to simmer and place the bowl of gelatin mixture over the saucepan (double boiler). Make sure to use a heat resistant bowl, which is larger than the opening of the saucepan. Steam will immediately warm up the glass bowl and start dissolving the gelatin. Turn off the heat and set it aside. If somehow you end up taking a long time to do the following process and the gelatin has set into a solid, you will need to melt it back into a liquid with a double boiler again.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and creamy.
- In a medium saucepan, heat 200 ml (roughly 1 cup) milk (keep the rest for later) over medium heat until the milk is warm to the touch.
- Slowly add the warm milk, whisking constantly (tempering the egg mixture).
- Pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly (keep an eye on the pot ALL THE TIME; otherwise the mixture will burn on the bottom), until the mixture coats a spoon with a thin film or small bubbles start to form at the edges of the pan, or reaches 160ºF (71ºC).
- Add in the gelatin mixture and mix well. Remove from the heat.
- Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean bowl.
- Add the rest of the milk (200 ml), heavy whipping cream, and vanilla and whisk all together. We’re adding them at the end to help the mixture cool down.
- Divide the custard into the 8 ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge overnight or up to 3 days. The caramel on the bottom will become thinner after the moisture from the custard transfers to the caramel.
- To serve, run a small sharp knife or toothpick around the edge of each ramekin to loosen the custard. Quickly invert each custard onto a plate. If it doesn’t release right away, gently shake the ramekin a few times to help it out.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. Consume soon as the quality degrades.
Editor’s Note: The original post was shared on June 10, 2011. The post is updated with new content, images, and video in September 2016.