Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Food for thought: Japanese desserts

As it turns out I'm staying in Nihon for a bit longer, I thought I would continue with another post on the scrumptious bliss of Japanese food, or to be more specific, desserts!

Let's start with the wonder of Japanese jellies. Americans: forget the plastic-bound, blandly sweet little lunch box gelatins of your elementary years; jellies are a culinary art form in Japan bursting with chilled, full fruit flavor! Presentation of said jelly is also part of its appeal: Admit it, this dark gem grape jelly adorned in a mint leaf and garnished by a carrot cake cookie has you drooling for a spoonful, doesn't it?

Now, let's move on to pastries. I have to admit, the chocolate pastries in Japan tend to fall short of the diabetes-inducing decadence of American pastries that I am used to, but their fruit pastries are another matter. Take the triangle of celestial confection below. It is made of croissant-like (er, -esque?) slices of bread that puff with crisp, buttery flavor in each bite. A delectable dust of powdered sugar adds a light sweetness. And the filling! Clouds of delicately-flavored cream layer a subtly tart strawberry lining. A ripe summer day couldn't taste any better. Best of all, this little wedge of heaven is under 200 yen (basically, under 2 dollars).

But sometimes a simple ice cream is in order. While I lament Japan's lack of my favorite flavor (peanut butter chocolate rules!), there are many flavors unique to this country, like Hokkaido Milk.
The Hokkaido region of Japan is famous for its creamy milk, which is used in gourmet chocolates and ice cream. It's hard for me to describe the milky flavor; lighter than vanilla, more like cream of cloud!

If you are ever in Japan, be sure to enjoy at least one of these treats!

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