Friday, August 7, 2009

Tokachi Kinako Caramels

One of my students recently visited Hokkaido. She brought back a plethora of pictures of flowers, green fields, and nature. She also brought me back a souvenir, as is commonly done in Japan. Though the item was supposed to only be available in Hokkaido, it was a very familiar item to me. Yes, it was the wonderful Ezo Brown Bear caramels that I had reviewed previously.

There seems to be a never-ending supply of Hokkaido-only caramels that are sold all over Tokyo as that is what the kinako caramels that I'm reviewing today are supposed to be. I found these at the local discount snack shop for 100 yen (about a dollar). Dounan, which makes both these and the Ezo Brown Bear caramels, seems to get around.

In case you don't remember or are a new reader, kinako is toasted soy flour. It has a nutty flavor which can be similar to peanut butter, but it doesn't always carry much of a peanut flavor. It's just the toasting process. These caramels carry the scent and flavor of kinako and are nicely sweet. The kinako is neither too strong nor too weak. It's really very nicely balanced. The caramels themselves are easy to bite into and stick to your teeth a bit. Because of their size, they vanish all too soon. If you want to savor them, sucking on them might be a better bet.

It took me a long time to consume the 18 caramels in the box and by the end they had picked up some moisture and gotten a bit soft and sticky. They still tasted great, but the texture lost some of its luster. Each caramel is 17 calories and quite small. They make for a nice little sweet, but I think most people wouldn't be satisfied with just one.

If you like kinako, it's nearly a lock that you'll enjoy these. I really liked them and would definitely buy them again if I wanted some caramels. However, I would either keep them in the refrigerator or only buy them if I could share them, eat them faster, or if it wasn't summer in Tokyo when it's hot and humid.


Marvo said...

My parents gave me some kinako peanut butter from Japan. I have yet to eat it because I'm not sure if I will like it. Although they also brought back kinako Kit Kat, which I enjoyed. Maybe I shouldn't be such a wuss.

Orchid64 said...

I don't think I"ve seen kinako peanut butter before. Perhaps I should look more carefully in the spreads section of the market. Kinako is a bit nutty in flavor (due to the roasting process, I believe). I don't know how it'd be in a spread, but my guess is that it greatly depends on what you spread it on. Can you post a picture of the kinako butter you were given?

I think it'd probably be good on anything really bland and crispy, but I think it wouldn't work on bread so well. Somehow, soft bread and kinako doesn't seem right.

Thanks for commenting!

Peko Peko (KyotoFoodie) said...

Kinako caramel!?! Nice! I don't think that I have had that one. Kinako is great, isn't it? Healthy and tasty.

It makes great ice cream. Häagen-Dazs even uses it to flavor their ice cream here.

I think that we should use kinako in Western cooking.

I love your blog and am planning to come again. Thanks for stopping by and commenting on KyotoFoodie!

Orchid64 said...

Hi, Peko, Peko, and thanks for reading and taking the time to comment! I've added your blog to my Japan links on the sidebar and will be subscribing to your site via RSS (and encourage my readers to do so as well!).

I adore Kinako and have found some really tasty things that use it. My new favorite is a sembei which a review of will show up here at some point in the not too distant future.

I do wish that kinako was used back home, but I think a lot of people can have odd reactions to soy flour.