Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Japanese Custard Pudding

If you've ever been to Asia, you likely have encountered various forms of pudding made of yellowy, egg custard topped with a layer of velvety caramel sauce. This much beloved dessert has spawned cartoon characters, popsicle flavors, and even pudding-shaped costumes. 

This weekend, The Husband and I decided to try our hand at making this dessert with the help of the Cooking with Dog series. This is a hilarious Japanese youtube series in which a gray poodle narrates all of the instructions while a deft Japanese woman demonstrates. 

Japanese Custard Pudding
Serves 4, depending on size of custard cup

Caramel Sauce
4 tbsp Sugar

1 tbsp Water

1½~2 tbsp Hot Water

Custard Pudding
2 Eggs

250 ml Milk (8.45 fl oz)

5 tbsp Sugar

4 Pudding Molds
Small tab of unsalted butter

1. Coat inner surface of pudding mold with unsalted butter. Makes removal from molds easier after the custard has set.

2. For caramel sauce, place sugar and room temperature water in a pot and heat at medium heat. Swirl the pot back and forth while the sugar caramelizes to a golden brown color. (Make sure you don't burn the sugar or it will taste bitter!)

3. Remove from heat. Then pour hot water into the caramelized sugar to thin out the caramel and deglaze from sides of the pot. (Be careful as this process will release a lot of steam so don't burn yourself.)  Pour sugar into pudding molds. 

4. Crack eggs into a bowl. Lightly beat the egg with a whisk and keep the whisk on the bottom of the bowl to prevent too much air/foam from getting into the egg mixture. 

5. Add milk and sugar in a pot. Stir and heat on stove until sugar is dissolved. 

6. Combine milk and egg mixtures. Strain through strainer and pour mixture into pudding molds. Cover each mold with aluminum foil. 

7. Heat water in a pan with a small towel at the bottom of the pan. Water level should cover bottom half of the pudding molds. Keep water temperature at just below the boiling point and steam for 18-20 minutes. Watch the water periodically to see if it has developed into a boil and adjust temperature as needed. 

8. Remove pudding molds from pan and chill for several hours until the custard has set. Then use a thin knife to separate the sides of the custard from the mold. Tap around the mold to release the custard from the mold. Flip upside down on to a shallow bowl or plate. Serve immediately. 

The combination of lightly sweetened smooth custard and the slightly bittersweet caramel sauce was quite divine. The slight bitterness of the caramel reminded us of a coffee flavor, which is commonly added in some recipes. The little dimples throughout the outside of the pudding seemed to result from foam or bubbles during the custard-making process. We'll definitely try to fix that problem before we serve to guests. 

In doing our research for this pudding, we found that this type of pudding is found in many different European, Latin, and Asian cultures all with their own little spin. Some adding condensed milk and some adding cream. The possibilities are endless with this dessert as you start to include additional flavorings such as coconut, coffee, or mango. 

Hope you give this recipe a try or at the very least watch some of the Cooking with Dog series. It is quite hilarious! 

Have a joyous Wednesday! 

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