Microwave Custard Pudding

A single-serving microwave version of purin pudding, a Japanese-style custard pudding. This silky, creamy is an easy dessert perfect for one or two people.

photo of a custard pudding on a plate

During my trip to Japan, I fell in love with Japanese puddings. They can be found just about anywhere, including all the local convenience stores. We would stop in every store and purchase all the different puddings to taste.

What is Purin Pudding?

Purin pudding is a Japanese egg custard pudding, similar to a flan. The pudding is made with eggs, milk and sugar, served chilled with caramel sauce.

There are two main ways to make purin pudding. One is to bake it in the oven. The other is a no-baked version made with gelatin to firm up the pudding. Today I’m sharing a quick and easy microwave version which is similar to the baked version but faster and makes a smaller amount.

Like most Japanese desserts, purin pudding is much lighter and not as sweet as traditional flan or custard pudding. It’s often enjoyed as an afternoon snack. It has a silky, creamy light texture. On its own, the pudding has very little sugar. However, it is served with a caramel sauce to add sweetness.

The caramel sauce is also not like the caramel sauce you are probably used to. Usually, caramel sauce is made with sugar and cream or butter. However, this caramel sauce is made with only sugar and water. It’s more of a syrup.

The syrup sits at the bottom of the custard mold and then the pudding batter is poured on top. When the custard is flipped over the syrup runs down the pudding.

close-up photo of a custard pudding with a spoon

Tools Needed to Make Purin Pudding

  • To get the custard shape, you will need a microwave-safe ramekin, kitchen prep bowl, or similar bowl that can hold about 8 oz of liquid. You want a circular bowl with a flat bottom. The top of the bowl should be slightly wider than the bottom of the bowl, to achieve the pudding shape.

photo of a white bowl turned upside down

  • The bowl needs a flat bottom so that the caramel syrup can sit on top of it.
  • The top of the bowl needs to be wider than the bottom because when the bowl is flipped upside down, some of the syrup will run down the custard, flavoring the entire custard.
  • You will also need a fine mesh strainer to strain the custard batter through.

Tips for Making the Caramel Sauce

Cooking caramel sauce in the microwave can be a little tricky. If you cook it too long or with too much power, the caramel will burn.

  • To make sure the caramel doesn’t burn, you need to set your microwave cooking power to 500 watts.
  • Microwave it initially for 2 minutes. This will get the caramel syrup hot but it should still be clear in color. Then you microwave at 10 second intervals so you don’t overcook it.
  • When the caramel starts to turn an amber brown, that is when it is ready. You do not need to wait for all of it to turn completely brown, only about half of it. You will swirl it around to make the color uniform.

overhead photo of the caramel in the bottom of the bowl before it's stirred

  • The caramel will harden quickly after it is removed from the microwave. It will soften and turn back into liquid when you put the custard on top.

photo of the caramel in the bottom of a bowl after it's been stirred

How to Lower the Wattage on your Microwave

Both the caramel sauce and the custard pudding cook at 500 watts which may be lower than what your microwave cooks at when using full power. In the US, microwaves usually to range between 700-1100 watts. In Japan they typically use lower wattage microwaves. It is important that the recipe cooks at a low wattage so that it does not overcook.

It is easy to lower the wattage on your microwave. First, you need to find out what wattage your microwave cooks at when it cooks at full power. This is usually written on a small label just inside the door of the microwave. Your microwave also should have the ability to change the cooking power level. If you have a 1000 watts microwave and you are trying to change it to 500 watts, you would choose the setting to cook at 50% (1000 x 50%= 500), to have the microwave cook at 500 watts.

How to Make Japanese Custard Pudding in the Microwave Two Ways

I came up with two ways to make this pudding.

Version 1

The first way produces a result most similar to the traditional method, where the caramel sauce is placed in the bottom of the custard mold.

With this method, some of the caramel sauce soaks into the custard while the rest runs down the custard when it is flipped over to be served. It produces a lovely two-tone colored custard.

photo of a custard pudding with caramel sauce on a plate

This is the method I prefer, except that it doesn’t come out as pretty as the baked or gelatin method. Because the custard is cooked in the microwave, some of the bottom of the custard gets cooked and mixed with the caramel sauce, so the top of the pudding doesn’t look as nice.

overhead photo of a custard pudding

Version 2

The second method keeps the custard pudding and caramel sauce separate. The syrup is then poured over the custard at the end. This version has a prettier presentation because the custard doesn’t cook into the caramel sauce. However, the downside is that the sauce doesn’t soak into the custard at all, so it doesn’t have the two-toned color and the custard isn’t quite as sweet.

photo of a the custard pudding with the caramel sauce poured over the top

If you like this recipe you might like my Japanese Milk Pudding, too.

Microwave Custard Pudding

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes
Total Time: 11 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Japanese
Servings: 1

A single serving, microwave quick and easy version of Japanese purin custard pudding. 

Ingredients:

Custard

  • 120 ml whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp granulated white sugar

Caramel Sauce

  • 1 tbsp granulated white sugar
  • 1 tsp water plus an additional 1 tsp water for version 2

Directions:

Version 1 (Traditional method with syrup sitting at the bottom when custard cooks)

  1. First, make the caramel sauce. Add 1 tbsp granulated sugar and 1 tsp water to your microwave safe bowl. Stir until sugar dissolves completely into the water. 

  2. Set your microwave cooking power to 500 watts. Microwave caramel sauce for 2 minutes. Stop microwave and then microwave at 10 second intervals (still at 500 watts), checking the sauce after each 10 seconds, until caramel starts to turn color. About half of the sauce should turn a light amber color while the rest remains clear. (It should take between 3 minutes to 3 1/2 minutes total cooking time including initial 2 minutes to reach this color).

  3. Working quickly, remove sauce from microwave and swirl a few times until the color evens out. Allow caramel to harden.

  4. While caramel is setting, make the custard. In a small bowl, add custard ingredients and whisk until smooth. 

  5. Pour custard through a fine mesh strainer and into bowl. The custard should sit on top of the hardened caramel.

  6. Set your microwave to 500 watts cooking power again. Microwave custard for about 2 minutes and 30 seconds. The top of the custard should be hardened and no longer liquid. If custard is not completely cooked, you can cook another 30 seconds.

  7. Place custard into the fridge to set for at least 2 hours or until completely chilled. While custard is chilling, it will develop some water around it. This is normal. Do not drain the water out because it will mix with the caramel sauce so that there is enough sauce to cover the custard and plate.

  8. When ready to eat, place a plate over the bowl. Flip bowl upside down so that the custard falls onto the plate. The custard should slide out and the caramel sauce should pour over the cake. 

Version 2 (Cooking Custard Separately from Caramel Sauce)

  1. First, make the custard. In a small bowl, add custard ingredients and whisk until smooth.

  2. Pour custard through a fine mesh strainer and into microwave-safe pudding bowl.

  3. Set your microwave to 500 watts cooking power. Microwave custard for about 2 minutes and 30 seconds. The top of the custard should be hardened and no longer liquid. If custard is not completely cooked, you can cook another 30 seconds.

  4. Place custard into the fridge to set for at least 2 hours or until completely chilled. 

  5. While custard is chilling, make the caramel sauce. Add 1 tbsp granulated sugar and 1 tsp water to a microwave safe bowl. Stir until sugar dissolves completely into the water.

  6. Set your microwave cooking power to 500 watts. Microwave caramel sauce for 2 minutes. Stop microwave and then microwave at 10 second intervals (still at 500 watts), checking the sauce after each 10 seconds, until caramel starts to turn color. About half of the sauce should turn a light amber color while the rest remains clear.

  7. Working quickly, remove bowl from microwave and add in 1 tsp of water while the caramel sauce is still very hot. Be careful because this will cause the sauce to bubble. While the sauce is bubbling, stir until all the liquid is even in color. Allow caramel sauce to cool and thicken. 

  8. When ready to eat, place a plate over the custard bowl. Flip bowl upside down so that the custard falls onto the plate. Pour syrup over custard before serving.

Notes:

  • You must cook at 500 watts, otherwise you will overcook the custard and caramel.
  • There are detailed tips and photos provided in the post, including photos of how the caramel sauce should look. 
  • To get the custard shape, you will need a microwave-safe ramekin, kitchen prep bowl, or similar bowl that can hold about 8 oz of liquid. You want a circular bowl with a flat bottom. The top of the bowl should be slightly wider than the bottom of the bowl, to achieve the pudding shape. (See photos and tips in the post for reference).

 

All images and content are © Kirbie's Cravings.

16 comments on “Microwave Custard Pudding”

  1. I loved this tecipe and will try it as soon as I figured
    out how to set the microwave at 500 watts.
    Does 500 watts means 50 % instead as 100%?
    Thank you.

    • Hi! First, you need to know what wattage your microwave cooks at when it is at full power. This is usually displayed on a small label inside the microwave around the microwave door area. Your microwave should then also have the ability to adjust the power level. If your microwave wattage is 1000 watts, then yes you would set it to cook at 50% power to get it to cook at 500 watts.

  2. This is my favorite dessert, glad finally see a simple version I can try to make it. Thanks!

  3. Hi! I tried making this recipe as a build-up to creme-brulee, and for the most part, it was alright. However, I was unsure if I was to remove the egg whites so I kept them in and they simply floated to the top and cooked. The mid to bottom part was smooth and creamy, but the scrambled eggs at the top were.. unappetizing. Am I to leave them in and strain or separate the yolks and whites? Thanks 🙂

    • Hi, the entire egg is used but you need to completely whisk the egg until the mixture is uniform with no unmixed egg whites. If the egg is completely whisked, then the egg whites won’t be loose and float to the top during cooking. Hope this helps!

  4. 4 stars
    I JUST made this according to the first method and I have to confess, I got impatient and thought I’d try to eat it while it was still warm. The custard tipped out beautifully and tasted AMAZING but the caramel sauce remained as a hardened toffee in the base of the ramekin though you had said “It will soften and turn back into liquid when you put the custard on top”.. If I had left it to cool for 2 hrs as you instructed, would the toffee have softened during the time it cooled? Or do you think I didn’t microwave it long enough in the first instance? It was only a very pale amber when I stopped heating the sauce because I was worried my microwave was going to blow! I’m thankful just for the custard instructions alone so it’s ok if I can’t get it to work but I’d love to know whether you think the hardened toffee was as a result of my impatience or my not heating it long enough. I’d try it again myself but I’m worried I’ve destroyed my ramekin so your insight would be super appreciated before I try it again! Maybe in future I’ll just stick to Method 2.

    • Yes the caramel would have softened if you had let it cool for the 2 hours. You don’t need to cook it longer. If it hardened, then it sounds like you heated it just right. Basically, as it cools, the moisture from the custard will soak into the caramel, softening it and turning it back into a liquid.

  5. This looks and sounds amazing! I’m busy making it to surprise hubby later. Will let you know how it goes!

    • I hope it turned out well!

    • It was yummy but I overcooked it a bit so the texture was a bit off. After having it in the microwave for 2.5 mins the tops were still runny but thick so I tried it for another 10 seconds and they boiled over. This is with the microwave set at 500 watts and everything. Should I have stopped at the runny but thick stage, or do you think I might have the wattage wrong? I’m trying this again today.

      • Hi, did you make more than one? Your comment seemed to indicate that you may have made more than one, which is fine, except they need to be cooked separately. You can’t cook both of them at once in the microwave because it will result in very uneven cooking, which may have been the reason why it was a little overcooked.

  6. I made two but cooked them separately of course. Second time worked out better as I lowered the power to 400 watts for a bit longer keeping a constant eye on it till it started lightly bubbling and then chrcked it every 20secs till the tops were firm. The texture is still a bit off but that could be something else.. cold eggs maybe? Thanks for a brilliant recipe!

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