Hakata Minazuki: Annin Dōfu・杏仁豆腐博多水無月 Edition

Love an interactive sweet! This pudding is from Izumiya・和菓子処 泉屋. Annin dōfu・杏仁豆腐 is an immensely popular dessert from China that has a lot of popularity here too, it is an almond tofu pudding and I absolutely adore it, particularly as an ice cream flavour. And of course, as a variation of Hakata minazuki! The green is actually from the bamboo leaf they are typically wrapped in, behind it is the red bean jelly with the annin dōfu on top while I drown it in lemon syrup. It was incredibly good, but I think I prefer the classic version of the pudding.

Happy Wagashi Day! (AKA Christmas in June)

What a great day! This holiday goes all the way back to 848!! Rabbit Moon・兎月 was celebrating by giving out these super fun bags to eager customers. I love it! I celebrated my going to Rabbit Moon, the first sweet place I came to in Fukuoka and one of the reasons I started this blog. I got the seasonal namagashi, a beautiful intricate piece with purple sweet potato paste. A tradition I can get behind.

As a lovely piece explains:

It started in the year of 848 in the Heian period when plague was spreading throughout Japan. With the hope that this disease would stop and everybody would live healthily and happily, the Emperor Ninmyō changed the era to Kashō and prayed to the God with an offering of sixteen Japanese sweets. It was on the 16th of June and the number of the sweet offering was associated with the date. Since then this day became the Wagashi Day and people ate Japanese sweets and wished a happy life. This custom carried on until the Edo period.

Sakura Junction

I might have gotten a few other pieces that I can enjoy throughout the week. Happy wagashi day, I hope everyone can take a little sweets break today, it’s tradition!

Hakata Minazuki Continued: Sweet Summer Citrus Edition

The cutest package wrapped in a bamboo leaf from Sanshodō・参松堂. This is another sweet using amanatsu・甘夏, a sweet, Japanese citrus fruit. When you open the leaf, the wooden pick holding it together becomes the fork. Its a wonderful little citrus-y jelly with red beans sprinkled throughout. I can’t wait for more of these!

Summer Grape Sweets

Summer is here and brings all the amazing Kyushu fruits and veggies. This part of Japan is famous for its produce so I’m excited to try everything. Throughout Japan a wide variety of (usually expensize) grapes are a prized treat. And today, an adorable little treat from Minamoto Kichoan・源吉兆庵, where I’ve gotten lucky a few times. Its a daifuku with a very thin layer of mochi, with white bean paste and at the centre is a green grape that has been jellied on the inside our sugar crystalized on the outside. Kichoan really focuses on fruit and they are always inventive and delicious.

Sweet Lemon Mochi

A nice sunny flavour to match the day! I got this lemon and white bean filled daifuku from a department store downtown. As soon as I ate it I immediately regretted not buying more. It was so fresh and tangy and bright! The department stores have a few different lemons sweets now so I may have to go back this weekend…

Meiji Era Snacks

I’ve been really going into the classic desserts and sweets lately! It’s been years since I’ve had this one: anmitsu・あんみつ. This is a real old classic, and can be found in cafes, sweet shops, restaurants, grocery stores or convenience stores. It is made from agar jelly cubes (algae based gelatin), anko (red bean baste) and fruit. And sauce! Typically white or in this case black syrup・黒蜜 which has a really nice molasses kind of taste.

It’s available year round but is definitely most popular in the summer. The toppings can really vary a lot, popular ones are mochi, custard, ice cream, matcha toppings or different fruits. This one had salted beans and sweet bean paste.

It was fun to put everything together, but I think next time I would really like to try it at a cafe that specializes in it.

Sweet & Salty

This is actually a sneaky repeat, but I loved it so much I don’t mind. This is actually from 7/11 (you really can get/do anything there)! It’s a sakura mochi pudding with mizu yōkan・水ようかん (jellied sweet, smooth red bean paste) on top. I added the salted pickled cherry blossom for fun. I had this sweet tucked away for a while because it’s pretty shelf stable and I knew I would be missing spring as soon as it was over. Even though the hydrangeas are really incredible now, I love sakura season. Tomorrow I’ll try to take some pictures from around the neighborhood, its really spectacular.

May Snack of the Month: Kashiwa Mochi・かしわ餅

Kashiwa Mochi・かしわ餅 are often eaten during Children’s Day・子どもの日 which is usually around the first week of May during Golden Week holidays. It is a simple mochi with red bean paste inside wrapped in a decorative oak leaf. よもぎ・mugwort is another popular flavour for kashiwa mochi which has a fresh grassy taste. I opted for the simple kind.

I usually keep these flowers at my bedside and they are the most beautiful thing to wake up to, despite not knowing their name in neither English or Japanese.

Another Classic

I obviously have favourite types of Japanese sweets but I do have a go at trying new things or revisiting things from before. A really classic sweet is warabi mochi・わらび餅. It’s a bracken starch jelly which is often clear but mine was made with black sugar so had a really nice depth to it. Best served chilled and then topped with kinako powder (toasted soybean flour). I must have tried it a few times before but was surprised how much I liked it this time! Summer snacks are great.