Monday, August 6, 2012
Furuta Tiramisu Chocolate
I had a few friends over for lunch yesterday and they mentioned that they had tiramisu for dessert over the weekend. I don't know how popular it is in the U.S., but I can only say that tiramisu will always be linked to Japan for me as the first place I encountered it was in Tokyo... in a convenience store. When I first arrived there in 1989, it was sold pretty much everywhere as a chocolate sponge cake, a layer of whipped stuff that was supposed to mascarpone, and some chocolate shavings or powder. The coffee flavor of these "konbini" offerings was always too subdued or overbearing (usually the former) and the "cheese" flavoring usually had a very chemical in taste.
Despite the fact that I like all of the components of tirsmisu, I was mainly drawn to it for the texture of the cheese. I like anything that is rich and fluffy. It didn't matter that the taste of the low rent tiramisu I usually (but not often) bought in Japan was less than impressive as long as I got that textural feedback. Most of the mass market tiramisu in Japan was simply "ok" and I never tried it at a restaurant.
Anything tiramisu has a real sense of nostalgia for me in terms of remembering Japan, as does "Furuta", a company that makes a wide variety of low profile snacks and sweets. The one with the greatest longevity and popularity is the "Sequoia" wafer bar. It's like a poor man's KitKat, especially if that poor man likes cheap, very sweet chocolate.
I bought this at Daiso Japan for $1.50 (117 yen) as part of a buying frenzy. There are 10 tiny candies, about the size of a Hershey's Kiss, individually wrapped in green foil. Each candy is 36 calories. That makes them more fattening for their size than the average chocolate.
It was only after tasting a candy that I remembered that I'd already sampled the company's tiramisu Sequoia bar and found it lacking. That bar tasted to much like the coffee component and not enough like the chocolate and mascarpone. This candy suffered from the opposite problem. It tasted not at all like coffee and mainly like cheap, but fatty, chocolate and fake mascarpone cheese. I guess that the "cheese powder" can't really do for me what the fake mascarpone did in my little plastic-wrapped konbini tiramisu.
This isn't a horrible candy at all. The chocolate is slightly bittersweet and has better depth of flavor because it's not too sweet. The chocolate on the outside is a bit on the softish side which isn't helping the contrast between the white filling and the outer shell. The inner white stuff seems firmer than the outside, which is simply wrong as the white stuff in tiramisu is supposed to be fluffy and light compared to the denser brown stuff. It's the law, after all. As a chocolate, this is "blah". As a tiramisu chocolate, this fails because there is so little of a coffee component.