Friday, November 6, 2009
Sweet Box Chocolate Cake
One of the things that I occasionally miss about being in the U.S. is the ease with which you could pop into a store and pick up something like a box of Little Debbie cakes for a pittance when you were in the mood to destroy your body with empty calories and blood sugar spikes. Mind you, I didn't do that very often. In fact, I can say that I would probably need both hands to count the number of times I indulged. However, I've been sent the peanut butter "nutty bars" twice since coming to Japan and rejoiced in their bad for me splendor.
That being said, I think that not being able to find something makes it seem more appealing. Let me say that it's very rare to find any sort of Hostess-style pre-made snack cakes in Japan. You can buy lots of sugar and carb bombs of other sorts, but not the cream-filled, chocolate coated things you can back home.
Occasionally, I will see something which appears to be along the lines of those types of cakes, and 99 times out of 100, I'll pass it by because I know that it's not going to be very good. Most of the time the cakes are dry and the coating is relatively tasteless. Once in the bluest of moons (every two years or so), I'll give something a try.
I found this box of three individually wrapped cakes at a local 99 yen shop. That's about 33 cents per cake. These are made by "Sweet Box", which may sound like the name of a company that makes a lot of confections, but they're actually the same company that make the kaki no tane (persimmon seeds) sembei with peanuts that I reviewed previously.
The ingredients list reveals that these are made with corn syrup, margarine, grape sugar, and cocoa powder (among other things). It's not a very encouraging list. The cakes smell very faintly of cocoa and have a thin, relatively brittle but soft coating. I had to be extremely carefully when I cut them in half so as not to shatter the coating. The inside has more chocolate cream filling than is pictured on the picture on the box, which is an interesting change of pace. Usually, the box exaggerates, but this time it undersells.
The coating has very little taste and the cake is quite dry and also relatively flavorless. The filling is sweet, fatty and quite nice, and has a light cocoa flavor. However, the filling can't make up for the shortcomings of the coating and cake. Each cake is about 6 cm (2.36 in.) square and 138 calories. If they were lower calorie, they might be worthwhile, but the pleasure to calorie ratio just doesn't make them worth it in my opinion. If you're desperate for a snack cake and have completely forgotten how decadent such cakes can be back home, these might do. Otherwise, I wouldn't recommend them.