Friday, March 19, 2010
Bakauke Cocoa Sembei
I've had wonderful experiences with Bakauke sembei and was drawn to this cocoa sembei the minute I saw it. If nothing else, I love the package design. The mascots in black look beautiful against the sea of dark cocoa powder and the gold lettering adds a sense that these are going to be rich and chocoaltey. All in all, one expects a pretty high class experience.
I found these at the discount snack shop, Okashi no Machioka. They were 178 yen ($1.95) for a bag of 18 crackers (9 packs of 2 rice crackers). I was further intrigued by these because each 2-pack is only 33.6 calories (yes, it actually says "point six" in the nutritional information). Chocolate treats for a low calorie cost has convinced more than one woman to sample a food hoping to find the holy grail of chocolate; that is, the enjoyment without the high price of cocoa-based goodness.
Each cracker is fairly generously sized, and smells faintly of cocoa powder. They don't have any of the telltale smells one associates with rice crackers or baked rice products. The taste is relatively mild in some ways, and somewhat blunt in others. The cocoa flavor is pure, like cocoa powder, but there is relatively little sweetness and salt. This makes the experience feel somewhat flat when you aren't hitting on a pocket of salt on the exterior of the cracker. Both sugar and salt enhance flavor, and I think this really could have benefited from a bit more of one, the other or both.
I wanted to like these. They have a great texture and aroma. They're low in calories and sugar (they're made with Sucralose artificial sweetener) and they have lots of cocoa. Despite having all the components one might want, it just didn't come together to please my taste buds. The flavor was just too thin. I'll certainly finish the bag, but I won't buy them again.
If you're interested in downloading desktop pictures of each calendar month from Bakauke featuring their mascots, you can get one here.