Thursday, September 3, 2009

Morinaga Chestnut Caramels

The temperature outside may not reflect autumn, but the shops are signaling the coming of the changing of the seasons with fall sweets. On August 25, my husband and I were sauntering around 7-11 looking for interesting tidbits and he spied this bag of chestnut caramels. He's not a particular fan of chestnut, but he does love most of Morinaga's high quality caramels.

Fall signals people deciding to observe the Japanese aesthetic notion of "wabi sabi", when they go look at the leaves changing color on the trees as an indication of the impermanence of things and transition. I think that this sense may also partially fuel the way in which Japanese seek out novelty rather than rely on old favorites. I can't know of course, but I can say that, like the autumn leaves, these chestnut caramels will not be around for long.

This bag of caramels cost about 200 yen (about $2) and contains 23 individually wrapped caramels. Each is about 20 calories and slightly larger than the standard Morinaga caramels sold in boxes. They're also less uniform in appearance than the small squares tidily stacked in boxes. Though these are chestnut caramels, the first chestnut-based ingredient is paste which shows up 6th on the list. Fortunately, that doesn't have an effect on the flavor.

These smell like a rather generic sweet with a hint of a brown sugar scent. The flavor is very well-balanced with just enough sweetness and chestnut flavor to provide a rich taste without being too much on any front. The texture of these caramels is slightly different than the normal Morinaga caramels. It's not as slick or buttery, but it's still very good. I think that the chestnut paste adds more heft to them and makes them less slick.

I loved these in every way and will be sorry to see them go once they complete their seasonal run. If you like chestnut and have a chance to get these, I wholeheartedly recommend stocking up on them before they go the way of the fall leaves.

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