Inspired by Japanese custard purin, this vegan tofu purin is creamy, rich, and silky without the use of eggs or milk!
What is Purin?
Purin is a very popular Japanese dessert, similar to flan and creme caramel of other cuisines. In Japan it’s called purin プリン, an abbreviated form of custard pudding as it was originally known. Purin is loved by children and adults all over Japan, and you can always find pre-made packaged purin at supermarkets and convenience stores. (Maybe you’re familiar with the popular Pucchin Purin by Glico – which actually launched a plant-based Pucchin Purin a couple years ago! Pictured below.) Japanese purin consists of a creamy custard pudding – typically made with eggs, milk, and sugar – soaking in bittersweet caramel. This vegan purin uses tofu, soy milk, cashews, and agar to recreate that rich, creamy mouthfeel without any animal ingredients!
- Silken/Soft Tofu ⟶ This forms the base of the purin to give it that silky, custard-like texture.
- Only use silken/soft tofu, not regular/firm tofu! Also note, if you shop at a Korean market like H Mart, I’ve noticed some of their soft tofu to have more of a firm texture, so opt for silken tofu. For reference I typically use House Foods Soft Tofu, which is silky smooth but slightly more firm than silken tofu (firm enough that you can handle it with out it immediately falling apart).
- Cashews ⟶ Raw cashews add richness to create a more full-bodied mouthfeel, which you would normally get from egg yolks.
- Soy Milk ⟶ Don’t replace with other milks like almond or cashew as these are very watery. Soy milk is comparable to 2% milk in fat and protein, resulting in a purin that is creamy but not too heavy.
- You can try using oat milk or even a mix of oat milk and lite coconut milk, but I haven’t tested this.
- Agar Agar Powder* ⟶ This is essential to thicken the purin. Agar agar is a plant-based gelatin alternative. It needs to be heated first in order to dissolve in the mixture and activate its thickening properties.
- I highly recommend using agar agar powder for this recipe. Agar flakes won’t dissolve evenly into the mixture, resulting in a slightly lumpy rather than smooth purin. You can make your own agar powder by blending agar sticks or flakes into a smooth powder.
Tips for Success
Don’t stir the caramel ⟶ When making the caramel, don’t stir the mixture or the sugar may crystallize and you will end up with hard clumps of sugar. If the sugar is caramelizing unevenly, you can gently swirl the pan to move the sugar around.
Reduce/eliminate air bubbles ⟶ For the creamiest, smoothest purin you need to minimize the air bubbles. There are three key steps we take to reduce the air bubbles in this purin:
1) Soy milk is especially foamy (compared to other non dairy milks) which is why it’s not blended with the rest of the ingredients. Instead, we gently mix it in after blending.
2) Strain the mixture into the purin molds.
3) Tap the purin molds on the countertop a few times to remove excess air bubbles.
Transfer caramel to purin molds immediately ⟶ Once the caramel is ready, immediately pour it into the purin molds. The caramel will start to harden and thicken as soon as it’s removed from heat, so you need to work quickly!
Swirl caramel to evenly coat ⟶ Once you add the caramel to the containers/purin molds, swirl the caramel around to evenly coat the bottoms.
Dip containers/purin molds in hot water first (optional) ⟶ Dipping the bottom of the purin molds in hot water first will give you more time to work with the caramel before it hardens.
Set the caramel aside at room temperature while you make the purin ⟶ Once the caramel is in the purin molds, you want it to cool and thicken a bit so that it doesn’t completely mix with the purin. But don’t put it in the fridge, or it will thicken too much and stick to the bottom of the molds.
Cover the purin so it doesn’t dry out ⟶ After the purin has been transferred to the purin molds, let it cool at room temperature for 15 minutes. Don’t forget to cover the purin! Loosely cover the purin molds with plastic wrap, otherwise the top will dry out and form a thin skin. When the purin is ready to go in the fridge, wipe off any condensation that formed under the plastic wrap, then tightly cover the purin and place in the fridge.
Vegan Purin FAQ
My caramel stuck to the bottom of the container, what do I do?
This is likely because the caramel hardened too much before the purin was added. Make sure you start making the purin right after making the caramel, and don’t place the caramel in the fridge without the purin in it! Unfortunately you probably can’t salvage the stuck caramel for your purin, but you can easily clean it off by pouring hot water over it.
What kind of tofu should I use?
This recipe will only work with Japanese soft tofu or silken tofu. This kind of tofu is silky smooth with a custard-like texture (perfect for this custard-y pudding!). Regular/firm tofu is too spongy and won’t result in a smooth, creamy purin.
Do I need to make the caramel?
The bittersweet caramel is, for me, a key feature of Japanese purin. It doesn’t take long to make and all you need is sugar and water! That being said, if you don’t want to make the caramel, you can serve the purin with maple syrup or another liquid sweetener of choice.
Why did my purin mixture coagulate?
The purin mixture should be smooth and thin. Overheating can cause the soy milk to coagulate, so be sure not to cook it too long.
More Japanese-Inspired Sweets!
- Sweet Potato Mochi Cake
- Japanese-Style Strawberry Chocolate Parfait
- Vegan Melon Pan
- Vegan Pumpkin Melon Pan
- Matcha Chocolate Chip Cookies
If you try out this vegan tofu purin, don’t forget to leave a comment/rating down below and tag me in your photos on instagram @ellielikes.cooking. I love seeing all of your tasty recreations!
Vegan Tofu Purin | 豆腐プリン
- 3 tbsp (36g) granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp hot water
- ½ lb silken/soft tofu
- 2 tbsp (24g) granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ cup (30g) raw cashews soaked in hot water for 10 minutes
- 2 grams
agar agar powder*
- 80 ml water
- 240 ml unsweetened soy milk
- Make the caramel: Add sugar and water to a small saucepan and melt over medium heat. The sugar water will bubble a lot at first, then as the sugar caramelizes the bubbles will get bigger but slower and the mixture will turn amber. You can swirl the pan if the sugar is caramelizing unevenly, but do not stir or the sugar will crystallize.
- Once the sugar turns amber, turn off the heat and stir in 1 tablespoon of HOT water. It needs to be hot or the caramel will harden. The caramel will sizzle a lot when you add the hot water, so be careful and keep your face away from the saucepan.
- Quickly transfer the caramel to purin molds/jars. You can dip the bottom of the jars in hot water first so the caramel doesn't harden right away, but I usually skip this.
- Set the caramel aside at room temperature while you prepare the purin filling.
- Make the filling: Add all filling ingredients except soy milk to a blender and blend until smooth.
- Pour the filling into a saucepan and gently stir in soy milk.
- Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat and stir constantly. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low and simmer 1 minute. Remove from heat.
- Strain the filling: Place a small sieve over the purin molds and strain the filling into the purin molds, on top of the caramel.
- Tap the purin molds on the counter a few times to remove air bubbles.
- Loosely cover the purin with plastic wrap and cool at room temperature for 15 minutes. Tightly cover the purin and chill in the fridge until thickened, at least 30 minutes.
- To serve, you can eat the purin straight out of the container, or invert the purin onto a plate so the caramel covers all the purin. If you have trouble removing the purin, gently slide a small rubber/silicone spatula or knife around the edge of the purin to release the sides, then invert onto a plate.
Nutrition per serving: 217kcal | 8g fat | 1g sat fat | 29g carb | 24g sugar | 2g fiber | 10g protein | 46mg sodiumHide
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