Monday, June 7, 2010
Tirol Chibi Maruko-chan Marshmallow Purin Chocolate
Chibi Maruko-chan is a Japanese cartoon character. This is not one of your nasty, silly, big-eyed, spiky-haired anime characters, but a little girl and her family. The cartoon's target audience would seem to be children and possibly families. These candies from Tirol are probably targeted toward kids and people who have a sense of nostalgia about the cartoon, which aired in the early 90's.
I found these at a 7-11 convenience store which is rather distant from my apartment (as opposed to the other two 7-11's which are close to my place) for 32 yen (35 cents). There are a variety of wrappers depicting the faces of all of the characters in the television show. I chose one with Chibi Maruko-chan intentionally (to illustrate the title character for my readers), though it was tricky to find one since the box was only about 1/4 full and had been seriously picked over. Clearly, these were rather popular at the shop I found them in.
As is the case with all Tirol Premium chocolates, this is about a 1-inch (2.54 cm.) square block of rather soft chocolate. It has a light brown base, a white dome, and a marshmallow filling with a deep orange sauce on it. When I unwrapped it, it smelled of caramel. That's no surprise since "purin" in Japan is essentially flan or custard with burnt caramel sauce.
I ate this at room temperature on a day when the weather was typical for spring back home, which is to say on the cooler side for Tokyo (73-75 degrees F./23-24 degrees C.). The chocolate and marshmallow were very soft. In fact, there was really not much in the way of a distinct texture despite the mix of elements. The flavor was most heavily influenced by the sauce, which did indeed taste like the burnt caramel sauce on flan. The white chocolate is where the vanilla pudding flavor resides, but it's relatively muted. You have to intentionally rest that part of the candy on your tongue to get a sense of it. It you just bite into the whole thing, you're just going to get the caramel notes.
This is very, very sweet, but that really is to be expected because this is likely geared toward the tastes of kids in Japan. While many Japanese chocolates and candies aren't as sweet as Western-made ones, things that are aimed at children are sweeter. I was really interested in this for the marshmallow aspect. I love marshmallow-based sweets, but the marshmallow part really didn't do much for this either as a texture or in flavor. This was nice enough and is a decent way to satisfy a craving for something sweet with only a 51-calorie "price". Don't get my "indifferent" rating wrong. I enjoyed this well enough, but I wouldn't eat another because it's just too sweet and I'd rather have real flan than a candy that is similar to its taste.