Saturday, October 31, 2009
Halloween Manju (Pumpkin and Sweet Potato)
I usually don't post on Saturday, but this is a special extra for Halloween. A few weeks ago, my husband and I picked up some fresh manju (cake filled with sweetened bean or other traditional fillings) at a shop near the local train station. They were cute, and we both like manju. The orange one is kaboucha or Japanese pumpkin and the brown one is sweet potato.
These sorts of sweets are made exclusively by one shop and cannot be bought just anywhere. They are, essentially, like the product of a bakery. That is why this is a special post rather than a real review. Not only can my readers not buy these unless they happen to visit the same shop as us (or the same chain), but the chance that this exact same treat will be around at this time next year is pretty low. Mainly, this is just a one-off for some pictures of the type of cute seasonal fare you can get in Japan.
The pumpkin one has a bean/pumpkin mixture. I thought it tasted strongly and pleasantly of Japanese pumpkin (like a butternut squash), but my husband couldn't taste the pumpkin element at all. He said it was pleasant and nicely sweet, but couldn't really pick out the pumpkin. I ended up eating half of his as well as all of mine (the sweet potato one).
The sweet potato one has a chocolate exterior and sweet potato mix interior. You can see little bits of mashed sweet potato in it. The outside coating was surprisingly intense in cocoa flavor and overwhelmed the sweet potato flavor at first, but it was revealed a bit more fully after the first bite.
Both of these were fresh, moist, and really tasty. I think the cake exterior, which is very moist and a bit gummy (which sounds bad, but isn't), is made from yam flour. If you visit Japan, this is exactly the sort of thing you want to try from local shops and eat while it's absolutely fresh. You really can't beat this sort of experience, and it's the type of thing that isn't nearly as good the next day.
Happy Halloween to all of my kind readers!