Stuff and Nonsense: japanese confectionery

Showing posts with label japanese confectionery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label japanese confectionery. Show all posts


More Japanese Sweets From Okashi Connection

July marks two years subscribed to Okashi Connection's monthly Japanese box o' deliciousness and a few things have changed since we signed on, so I thought I should talk about it again.

First off, everything that's changed has changed for the better -- the boxes, now boldly colored and clearly branded, look very professional. The snacks seem bigger and better (not that they were ever paltry or unpalatable before) and, instead of logging into the Okashi Connection website for descriptions of items, a handy printed guide is included in each box. Okashi Connection has also added smaller and larger boxes to accommodate different size appetites/households. While these aren't substantial changes, they make the whole experience just that much nicer.

Despite the boxes coming directly from Japan -- eventually via the frequently ungentle hands of the United States Postal Service -- we've never had much of a problem with breakage. Chips, crackers, and other crispy snacks seem to survive their trip surprisingly well. It is the sweets that run into trouble. But, even then, not as much as I'd expect -- in the two years we've been subscribed, we've had only three or four sweets arrive melted and misshapen. Usually, the damage isn't so great we won't gamely try to eat the candy. However, in the case of this month's box, the watermelon gummies were just too tragic-looking to eat.

But everything else -- even the aerated chocolate panda -- is in good kip and looks delicious! Indeed, in some ways the steadily increasing "goodness" of the snacks is becoming a problem. In the beginning, the boxes were easy to split down "his" and "her" lines with The Husband, picky pants that he is, eschewing many snacks. More often now a box contains items we both want to eat and ... sometimes there is shouting and covert snacking (certain parties deny covert snacking, but I don't know what else could have happened to May's Pie No Mi Raspberry Cream Cheese pastries).


O-Sushi-ya-San Gumi DIY Candies

These Meiji Nigi Nigi Osushiyasan Gumi candies from the April 2015 Okashi Connection subscription box are probably where I should have started my gummi DIY adventure as they're pre-molded in the shape of either vinegared sushi rice balls or sliced seafood -- meguro (tuna), akagai (clam), ikura (salmon roe), ebi (shrimp), ika (squid), tako (octopus), and tamago (egg) -- and require absolutely zero amounts of water droppers or magic powders. All I had to do was stick the gummi pieces together. And eat them, of course.

Once I got the gummies out of their mold! They were surprisingly sticky, clinging to their mold (and then my fingers) for all they were worth. In addition to being sticky, the seafood gummies are quite soft and I half expected I'd destroy them as I unmolded them. However, they're supremely elastic and quickly returned to their original forms. The rice pieces were attached to each other via little gummi umbilicals and had to be cut apart. I mean, I could probably have just yanked them apart, but cutting seemed more civilized.

For what seems like a cheap, gimmicky candy, the seafood pieces are very cleanly molded with good detail. I especially enjoyed the adorable wee-ness of the peach-flavored ebi (shrimp) and tako (octopus) pieces. The rice pieces seem more roughly formed with untrimmed excess edging most of them.

What do these gummi candies taste like? Well, there's a preponderance of banana flavor as that's what all the "rice" gummies are flavored as, but the banana does play pretty well with the peach and lemon "seafood" gummies. Unfortunately, I don't really know how to rate the banana, because it's not a flavor I've encountered before in gummi form. It's mild? With a note of vanilla? The peach flavor is quite good, however, and tastes rather like a real peach, but the lemon is weirdly chemical and makes me think of a lemon-scented cleanser.

Eating these reminds me of how much I do enjoy gummi candy and makes me want to go visit the pick 'n' mix!


Kracie Ocean Creatures Gummy DIY

Waaaay back in March (!) our monthly Okashi Connection Japanese confectionery box included a Kracie "Umi no Gumi Zukan DIY" aka "Sea Creature Gumi Picture Dictionary" gummi candy construction kit. I'd never made anything like it before, but thought it might be fun to do ... later ... when I had time. Of course, I forgot all about it and it ended up at the bottom of the Big Green Bag of Leftover Okashi Stuff that lives in the hall closet.

Why I decided to throw caution to the wind, knuckle down and craft me some fine ass sea animal gummies today of all days I do not know. I went to the Internet, watched a bunch of instructional YouTube videos and then sallied forth into the world of gummi. Of all the YouTube videos I watched, I found AwesomeDisneyToys's particularly helpful and am sharing it below:

One thing AwesomeDisneyToys does not mention in his video, but I learned the hard way, is to pick up the mold after you've dripped the magic activator solution allover your sea creatures and look up through the bottom to see if the solution has sunk all the way through. If you see dry pockets of powder, add a bit more activator solution. Otherwise, you'll end up with a crab who, like mine, looks like it has a shell condition.

That said, you still need to be careful about not using too much activator solution because, if you use too much it will take forever for the gummies to set. This is a photo of my gummies, removed from their mold 20 minutes after I added the activator solution, and you can clearly see they are still rather wet.

But what do they taste like? A slightly gritty jelly version of marble soda. Definitely something eight-year-old me would tolerate better than thirty-eight-year-old me. I think I'll treat future gummi DIY strictly as a craft -- not a culinary -- project.


Japanese Sweets from Okashi Connection

We've dabbled with various subscription boxes over the past year and so it should probably be no surprise that The Husband recently signed up for the monthly box from Okashi Connection. For twenty-two dollars a month (that includes shipping) we get an assortment of Japanese candies, including seasonal and limited run products, shipped straight from Japan. It took about two weeks for our box to travel from Japan to Connecticut and I must have driven The Husband crazy, pestering him with "Did you get the mail today? Did we get our box?" every day until it arrived.

If I'd done a video of the unboxing, you would have seen us both taking things from the box while saying stunningly witty things like "Ohhh, what's this? This looks interesting. It's all in Japanese, though. I guess it's some kind of candy. Well, it has to be." And that's why there's no video. Also, we're lazy.

Happily, each box comes with a key -- just go to the "members only" sections of the Okashi Connection site and enter each month's password to find out what you've got.

Tohato Mixed Berry Caramel Corn
I love popcorn, but it's not something I should eat. This caramel corn is much more like cheese curls in appearance and texture and should prove no problem to my GI tract. I may end up testing this theory by eating the whole bag, as the puffs are hard to put down -- they smell like raspberry sherbet and candyfloss and taste ... well, they taste even better than the raspberry KitKat and I thought the KitKat was pretty darn tasty.

Kirby Mix & Match Gum
Bubble gum balls. Chew different flavors together to create combinations like "fruit salad" and "oh, by cake, that was a terrible idea."

Matcha (Green Tea) Cream Collon
Crisp biscuit straws filled with matcha-flavored creme. A very adult biscuit. Barely sweet. Almost like eating a savory Piroutte wafer cookie.

Choco Lotta Pie no Mi
Bite-sized flaky pastry hexagons filled with chocolate cream that reminded me a little bit of Nutella. The picture on the box indicates these bites are supposed to be pretty thick and flaky, but mine seem to have been bashed around quit a lot and most of their layers had flaked off.

Coris Fue Ramune Whistle Candy
They look like Life Savers mints, but taste a little like those Ramune ("marble") sodas you can get at some sushi places. They came with a small toy -- like Cracker Jack or Kinder Surprise -- and are pretty okay. Innocuous.

Nestle KitKat Otona no Amasa Raspberry
The internetz tells me these are "adult sweetness" ie less sweet than regular KitKats. Tasted exactly like freeze-dried raspberries (which no bad thing). Ours was horribly misshapen from having melted in transit, but still tasted yum, so a pretty okay experience overall.

Matcha (Green Tea) Flavor Fujiya Country Ma'am Cookies
Holy crap, these are delicious. The outside is crisp and a little crumbly while the inside is soft and dense like a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie. Buttery and chocolaty with a gentle, but lingering green tea note. Dainty enough you don't feel greedy for eating two.

Ume (Sour Plum) Bubble Gum
Sweet-tart and very juicy gum balls. Unfortunately, the flavor doesn't last. First it's "Hello! PLUM!," then it's "meh. gum."

Camembert and Mozzarella Premium Umaibo
Tube of puffed corn flavored with cheese. A lot like eating an enormous gourmet cheese curl. Grown-up junk food.

Puffed Rice (Pongashi?) Ninjin
Plastic carrot filled with popped rice. There really isn't much to say about this. They're crunchy and slightly sweet. I want to put them in a bowl with milk and eat them for breakfast. The carrot bag is cute.

Cider Gumi
Very soft bottle-shaped gummies covered in granulated sugar. Tastes a little like blue fruit punch. Good, but confusing as it tastes nothing like cider.

Over all, I think The Husband did good. There's lots of different flavors and textures here and I've definitely found a few new favorites. I'm more impressed more by the dessert-y or snack-type things than I am by the candies, but I'm not usually big on candy, anyway.