Monday, February 28, 2011

Kasugai Chocolate Marshmallow Hard Candy

There are a lot of ways to add variety to a small pool of mundane elements. One way is to start pairing traditionally savory elements with sweet ones. This is how the notion of chocolate-covered bacon was given birth into a braver, fatter world. Another is to play with textures and to put together two things which wouldn't usually be paired. Kasugai has taken that route with these chocolate hard candies.

Up until now, all of my marshmallow experiences were of the variety which included regular chocolate (like the sort you eat in a candy bar) covering, sugar crystals or some sort of quasi-congealed coating (doesn't that sound yummy?). The main idea was that whatever was paired with the puffy marshmallow was capable of yielding when bit into. This allows you to appreciate the soft marshmallow with a variable texture or flavor without shattering your teeth.

I found this intriguing candy at Seiyu supermarket for about 160 yen ($1.92) for a bag of 15 pieces, each the size of a typical piece of hard candy. Each candy is 18 calories of tooth decay potential. The first ingredient is syrup, followed by sugar, and vegetable oil. The marshmallows are made with gelatin, and they don't have that funky Japanese marshmallow flavor or texture that many foreign folks find off-putting.

The peculiar thing about this candy is that the shell is a typical hard candy that is designed to be sucked on rather than bit into. Inside is a soft vanilla-flavored marshmallow. I guess this is a bit like a variation on a Tootsie Pop, though you can't really lick this to get to the center. Instead, you have to suck on the flavorful coating until it either gets thin enough to bite into. I guess there won't be any strange animated commercials with owls who steal your candy for this product.

The chocolate candy on the outside has a rich cocoa flavor and is quite tasty. Once you get to the marshmallow inside, you are treated to a good dose of vanilla and an interesting mix of crispy candy shards with the pillow of marshmallow. It's a very good flavor combination, but there is something about the way in which the entire experience works which just feels "off". I think the main reason for this is that the marshmallow, unlike the chewy center of a Tootsie Pop, starts to disintegrate and collapse so rapidly. That doesn't make this in any way a bad thing. It's just unusual.

While I enjoyed these, I'm not sure I'd get them again. I love marshmallow, but there isn't enough of it here to give a true experience with it. It's more of a hard candy experience than a gooey marshmallow one. I guess the bottom line is that if I want a chocolate hard candy, I'd have the Senjaku Diet Cocoa candy, and if I want a marshmallow, I'll have the real deal which is four times the size of the little tidbit in this candy. This is not enough of one or the other for a repeat buy, but it certainly is tasty enough to finish the bag.

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