Monday, August 13, 2012

Awashimado Adzuki Tart

Sometimes it seemed to me that the Japanese randomly assigned English names to various things. On the front of this treat, the big characters say "tart" or "ta-ru-to". This is in no way a "tart". I know because I looked it up to be sure that I hadn't missed some sort of alternate definition of the word. Wikipedia will back me up on the fact that a tart requires a pastry base, which this does not have.

Of course, the Japanese absolutely do not need to conform to our limited Western definitions of our own words. For a country that often focuses on conformity, this reveals a bit of a rebellious streak. Kudos to them for finding a way that expresses their inner rebel while still not ruffling any feathers. When mom and dad don't see won't hurt them... unless there you're dumb enough to leave wrappers of any sort lying around the betray your illicit activities, but that really has nothing to do with red beans or tarts or even food. 

This confection is made by Awashimado, the company that makes Adzuki Bean Boy cakes, a product which I described as the Japanese equivalent of cookie dough. I probably put on an entire pound of Adzuki Bean Boy by the time I'd left Japan. After scarfing down too many of those hefty bean cakes, I wanted to sample some of the company's other products and this was one of them. 

The main benefit over this misnamed tart over the bean boy is that it is only 170 calories (whereas it's brother was a whopping 260). I certainly didn't expect as much buttery richness from this, and I didn't get it. What I did get though was a very, very sweet, thick and satisfying smooth yet hefty filling of red bean paste wrapped in a moist bit of sponge cake. The cake is similar to castella, but slightly softer and, frankly, a much better textural compliment to the filling. 

This was a wonderful variation on a Swiss cake roll and I would absolutely have it again and again, if I could find access to it. I purchased this for 98 yen ($1.24) in a Tokyo supermarket, Inageya. I'm hoping to locate some of Awashimado's line in California after I have a chance to explore the various Japan towns in San Francisco and San Jose. If you find this (or the Adzuki Bean Boy), I'd recommend picking one up and giving it a try, but do it on the spot so you don't regret buying a big stash if you end up loving them a much as I do.

(If you'd like to download some wallpapers with the cute, simple mascots that Awashimado uses to promote its foods, you can find them here.)

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