If you’re sitting there wondering what this Cantonese Steamed Milk Egg Pudding (双皮奶 – shuang pi nai) tastes like, I would describe it almost like a Chinese version of Creme Brûlée, but without the crunchy sugar top.
In fact, if you WERE to torch some sugar on top of this Hong-Kong-style custard, they would be remarkably similar! To me, the major difference is that this Chinese version is ridiculously easy to make.
Why Are Steamed Desserts Common in China?
As you may know, ovens are not commonly used in Chinese cooking. Even today, home ovens are still considered a luxury item in China––you’ll rarely find one in Chinese kitchens.
Only in recent years have more people started to bake breads, pastries, and other baked goods at home––and even then, countertop electric ovens are more the norm. I say all this to explain why almost all traditional Chinese desserts are steamed, fried, boiled, or even pan-fried, rather than baked. You can even make cake in a steamer!
A Versatile Dessert Recipe
This Cantonese Steamed Milk Egg Pudding is very popular in Hong Kong, Macau and neighboring areas. Women believe it’s good for their skin, while elders like it for its rich nutritional value. Kids, of course, love the creamy texture and sweetness.
It’s also quite versatile. It can be serve hot or chilled. With a fresh fruit topping, it’s a healthy dessert. With granola and toasted nuts, it’s a nutritious breakfast. You could even serve it with red bean and sweet, chewy mochi. You see where I’m going with this? Think of this pudding as a blank canvas, and simply apply your favorite toppings to it. We served it here with fresh berries, sliced mango, and granola. Yum.
By the way, I did add a few drops of vanilla extract here for extra flavor, but other flavors like almond, ginger and coconut are also wonderful choices. Get creative!
Cantonese Steamed Milk Egg Pudding: Recipe Instructions
Prepare a steamer with water and bring it to a boil. Meanwhile, add the milk, cream, and sugar to a small saucepan and place over low heat. Heat the mixture until it’s warm to the touch, but not hot, stirring to dissolve the sugar completely.
Thoroughly beat the egg whites in a large mixing bowl.
Then slowly stir in the milk mixture and the vanilla extract. Mix everything well.
Strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer…
And then pour into three separate heatproof serving bowls (they should be about 3-4 inches in diameter).
Cover each serving bowl with foil. Then carefully place them in the steamer once the water is boiling. See our post on how to set up a steamer if you’re not familiar with steaming foods in Chinese cooking.
Steam for 8 to 10 minutes (steaming time will depend on the size of your serving bowls. If they’re wider and shallower, and the pudding is more spread out, steam for 8 minutes. If they’re smaller, steam a bit longer). Turn off the heat and let the puddings sit in the steamer for 10 minutes before opening the lid.
Serve this Cantonese Steamed Milk Egg Pudding warm or chilled with your favorite toppings.