Friday, March 13, 2009
Variety Friday: Kinako Mousse from Pizza Hut
How do you know when a particular flavor has made the journey from flash in the pan to genuine fad? You know when the major fast food joints start including that flavor in its short-lived side dishes and extras. Kinako, toasted soybean flour, officially has "arrived" as the food fad of this winter/spring when places like Pizza Hut maneuver dishes incorporating that taste into their menu.
This dessert is a light vanilla mousse with a kinako top layer. One of the selling points is that the soy flour is produced with 100% domestic soybeans. There has been a lot of anxiety over the past year or so about food grown in China and consumers feel reassured when they learn something is grown in Japan. My feeling has been that the safety issues with Chinese food have been overblown to boost sales of more expensive Japanese agricultural products.
These desserts are delivered to you frozen so you can't eat them right away. They're about 20 cm (7.8 in) in diameter and cost ¥1200 ($12.20). I've had many varieties of these and they are always the same thing. There is a base made of sponge cake or light pie crust topped with a layer of light, fatty mousse which resembles whipped cream. It's not too sweet, but also not intensely flavorful. Often, there are two layers of mousse of different flavors, though not always.
In the past, I've tried chestnut (marron), chocolate, and vanilla varieties, but I have not sampled this kinako number. The reason for this is that, though the Pizza Hut mousse desserts are always kind of nice, they're greatly over-priced for their quality and quantity. You could buy 4 nice fresh cakes at a premium cake shop for the same price as 4 servings of this mousse. Pizza Hut is hoping to get people to overspend and buy something with their pizzas because they happen to have a craving for sweets and are too lazy to go out in get something. This might be worth it at half the price, or if it was fresh rather than something they keep stacked up in their freezers.