Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Kashiwado Jumbo Black Sugar Bread
Most of my snack shopping takes place in relatively predictable places like convenience stores, supermarkets or snack shops. Very occasionally, something interesting will show up in one of the local green grocer's catch-all bin of snacks and low price foods near their registers. The shop these were purchased at is a bit grungy, but the prices for vegetables, fruit, and meat are low. The snack foods in the big bin are often a jumble, and sometimes look worse for wear. The boxes can actually look beat up, scratched, or worn on some foods; it's like someone kept them in the back of their cupboard for a few months then decided to sell them.
Normally, I ignore the snacks at this green grocer, but my husband plucked this bag of brown sugar bread out of the bin while he was foraging for Portuguese strawberry cookies that they had recently started carrying. The shop I bought this from is called Takano and we paid 198 yen ($2.20) for a package with 10. Each is 20 grams (.7 oz.) and 7.5 cm. x 5.5 cm. (3 in. x 1.2 in.) in size. I'm not sure if you can call that size "jumbo" or not, but they are big for a cookie-like treat in Japan.
Though these are called "bread", this is one of those times when translation doesn't work very well. These are more like a cross between a bread and a cookie. They are a variation on the classic Japanese "tamago pan" (egg bread). That means they are firm, dense, and have a somewhat crispy exterior with a dry, but tender interior. They are a small carbohydrate bomb, and eating them is as much about texture as taste. The ingredients include flour, brown sugar, white sugar, egg, and margarine.
These smell of molasses and brown sugar and unsurprisingly taste fairly strongly of brown sugar and molasses. They are quite sweet, but not in a throat-burning way. Like other types of tamago pan, they have a slightly crispy exterior, and a dry, cookie-like interior. They are very satisfying with a cup of coffee or tea as a more substantial snack.
I liked these a lot, but I love the sort of dense, dry cookie-like interior these have. They remind me of the sugar cookies my mother used to make, which were not your usual crispy, sweet sugar cookie. I find the texture of tamago pan immensely satisfying. The flavor of these is icing on the cake. I can recommend them without reservation to people who like similar types of food, but I'm not sure they'd be a knock-out winner with just anyone.