Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Lawson Value Line Swiss Cake Roll (Chestnut)
Lawson's runs a chain of convenience stores all over Japan. The curious thing about Lawson's is that the brand originated in Ohio, but it has grown to be the second largest convenience store chain in Japan. Lawson's presently has three different types of stores. One is your average somewhat expensive shop full of junk food and lunch fodder (bento, rice balls, etc.). Another is called "Natural Lawson's" and supposedly carries somewhat healthier fare including fruit and vegetables and health food products. The last one is a 100 yen store.
The 100 yen shops carry a "Value Line." These are products which are large for their low price tag. I should note that none of these Lawson shops are located in my neighborhood, but I found this Swiss cake roll at a different 100 yen store. I guess that Lawson's markets their products to other shops or my local 100 yen place, called QQ, could be owned by Lawson's.
The Value Line Swiss cake roll has been around for awhile in vanilla, strawberry and mocha flavor, but a few new varieties have been introduced with the change in season. Since I can't resist chestnut (called "marron" here), I decided to give this cake a try.
If you give the cake a sniff, it smells sweet, cakey, and ever so slightly like chestnuts. The cake itself is a nice, soft yellow sponge. It's not especially moist, but it's also not especially dry. It's a bit sweet, but doesn't carry much flavor on its own. I wouldn't be surprised if this was by design to allow the cream's flavor to dominate. The cream is very light and smooth. It has the texture of whipped cream and is sweet and has a somewhat subtle chestnut flavor. The cream also has a hint of coffee flavor and malt, but I believe that comes from caramel coloring and flavoring. The ratio of cream to cake is just about perfect.
For 100 yen, this is a very nice Swiss cake roll. It isn't as good as a designer cake from a high quality patisserie, but it does beat more expensive cakes I've had from markets and bakeries. Generally speaking, the Japanese don't do cakes very well compared to some other Western born treats. One of the reasons for this is that they don't like their treats as sweet on the whole and sugar adds moisture so reducing the sugar results in cakes that tend to be on the dry side. However, this combination works well. You wouldn't be embarrassed to serve this to guests in a pinch and it certainly would make for an economical dessert if you're hankering for a bit of cake.
The only problem with this cheap treat is that it's quite high in calories. The package says there are 382 calories in 100 grams and the entire cake weighs a little over 200 grams. I believe 5 servings would be fairly reasonable, but that's still a relatively small portion and weighs in at 152 calories. I'm guessing most people could put away 1/3 of the whole cake without batting an eye if they were looking to go a bit overboard.
I've tried the vanilla variety of this cake before and it's good as well. I try not to have it very often, but it is hard to resist when it's so cheap and easy to find. The only hesitation I have about recommending it is related to the nutritional issues and not the taste.