Saturday, December 20, 2008
Peanut Cream Mochi Choco
When you first start shopping at grocery shops in Japan, your inclination is to seek out the familiar amongst the plethora of incomprehensible items. You don't do this because you are conservative about eating new things, but rather because you can't read a thing and don't want to end up buying something that is inedible. After all, it wouldn't do to pick up what you think is a can of tuna and find out it's really cat food.
When it comes to various sandwich spreads, there are shelves full of jams and jellies which are easy to identify. Occasionally, you'll find the odd jar of Skippy peanut butter, but it's more common to find paper containers of something called "peanut cream". Since it has pictures of peanuts on it and it's with the jelly and jam, it's natural to conclude that this is Japanese peanut butter. It's a mistake to reach such a conclusion. Peanut cream is a strange, glossy, rather sweet concoction which is the ugly, unpleasant cousin of peanut butter. It's no wonder that it's not very popular in Japan. I sent a carton of it to one of my friends in the U.S. to sample and he thought it was pretty disgusting, and I wouldn't call him a very fussy eater as long as the food is free.
My husband found the box of peanut cream mochi pictured at the top of this post at a 99 yen shop and we decided to give it a try despite the inherent danger of consuming anything which showcases the vile peanut cream. Our faith in the quality of the product should be enhanced by the statement (in English) which says, "Fashioned in a homemade style by a superb chef. Enjoy with tea or moments of relaxation!" There are 5 individually wrapped patties per box, each about 2 inches/5 cm. in diameter, for 99 yen (98 cents) so I doubt many superb chefs are on staff formulating these and it's hard to believe their claim.
The Japanese on the box promises "moist mochi with peanut", though when you open a packet, you mainly smell cheap chocolate with no dairy notes. When I cut open a patty, I could smell peanut butter. Mochi has little or no taste and mainly provides texture. To their credit, the mochi is moist and slightly chewy. It provides a marshmallow like texture, though it's not nearly as spongy and is not sweet. The chocolate on the outside is very thin and cracks easily. It's slightly bittersweet and rather flat and dull flavor wise. Surprisingly, the peanut filling is like super soft peanut butter and not peanut cream. The chocolate is cool on the tongue and does not melt in your mouth. It cracks apart. It's surprisingly enjoyable for such a cheaply made treat. The chocolate is substandard, but the peanut filling and mochi steal the show. Perhaps it's just as well that the chocolate is crappy because it allows the other ingredients to shine through more brightly. Each patty has 64 calories, 1.2 grams of fat, and 13.2 carbs. The main ingredients are maltose, sugar, mochi, starch, vegetable oil, and peanut cream. I'm guessing there are a lot of bad fats in it.
These are made by a company called H&H trading which has no online presence or company information. I've never seen these for sale anywhere other than the local 99 yen shop, so I wonder if they're not the sort of thing one could track down and are just something you find by fortunate happenstance. After these sold out, they were not restocked so I haven't seen them again. However, they're worth a sample if you stumble across a box.