Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Nagoya Bouchée (Cheese)
This may seem to be a review leftover from my week of cheese-flavored snacks, but it was simply a coincidence that my husband was given a box of cheese Nagoya Bouchée cakes around the time that I did those reviews. While this was a souvenir box from another city, these types of cakes are available in many, many shops in Tokyo. They may be qualitatively different than these, but they have the same general construction.
I looked up "bouchée" and found out that it means "small pastry casing" in French. I'm not sure if what the Japanese call a bouchée is correct according the French concept or not. I can only say that I didn't find any English-language resources for the meaning of this word that matched the cakes I see in markets, convenience stores, etc., but that could simply be a spelling difference or my less than perfect search skills. They show a variety of confections, but none like the Japanese sandwich cake that resembles a whoopie pie in basic construction.
The manufacturer doesn't have a web site, but I found a page on Nagoya-based souvenir foods which said that this box is 630 yen ($6.77) for 5 cakes. That's quite reasonable as similar individually packaged cakes are between 100-150 yen ($1.07-$1.61). As is almost always the case with souvenirs, there is no nutrition information on the box except a list of ingredients, but the calorie counts for similar cakes are about 200 per cake.
The selling point for this particular souvenir is the use of special regional eggs. The first ingredient is eggs, and 40% of the eggs used to make these cakes are special Nagoya eggs called kouchin eggs (コーチン). These eggs are supposed to have richer, darker, smoother yolks and the shells are cherry-colored. The chickens that lay them are specially bred and weigh more than average chickens with the roosters weighing up to 5 kg. (11 lbs.) and the hens up to 4 kg. (8.8 lbs.). This breed of birds is supposed to be gentle in nature and less mobile due to their large size.
The cakes are about 8 cm. (3.2 in.) in size. There is a proportionally small amount of rich, fatty creamy filling in a very dry cake. Cakes in Japan are often dry because they are made with less sugar and more fat. The ingredients list for this includes eggs (regular eggs are 60% and the kouchin eggs 40%), flour, sugar, vegetable oil, and what translates to "sugar water" in Japan but I believe is essentially like corn syrup (thought likely not based on corn). "Cheese" is far down on the list and there is also the sugar alcohol Sorbitol.
Frankly, I had low expectations of this based on the dryness of the cake, though it did smell "good" in the way that a bakery which makes cakes smells so delicious. The cake was surprisingly tasty. It has a very nice, "developed" flavor which is ever so slightly reminiscent of a Twinkie's sponge cake. I'm guessing there is a common ingredient that brings this flavor on, but I have no idea what that might be. Though the texture is nothing to get happy about, the taste of the cake (which dominates as the filling is so small proportionally) is that of nicely sweet, good quality yellow cake. It's a cut above a lot of the mass market cakes in Japan.
The filling doesn't have much cheese flavor at all. It's sweet, and seems to be flavored with something, but it's too weak to be distinct. That was fine by me because I didn't want another cheddar-flavored sweet on my hands. Mainly, the filling adds a nice textural contrast and extra sweetness.
I really loved this because the flavor profile was so good. There may actually be something in the claim that the eggs used in these are better qualitatively than most eggs and I frankly am encouraged that the first ingredient is eggs as I think that might make the protein to carbohydrate profile on these better than your average cake. That being said, if you are sensitive to cakes that tend to run on the dry side, I couldn't recommend these for you.