Monday, June 3, 2013

Nanao Green Tea Papiro Cookies

When I hear "Nanao", I think "monitors", not confections. Apparently, my knowledge is rather outdated, however, because that company is now called Eizo, no doubt because they were tired of people walking into their stores and expecting sweet, sweet candy and finding that gnawing on the edges of a display did nothing but damage their dental work. Actually, I'm sure that the display maker is much better known than Nanao Confectionary, which is a relatively small business in Kitakyushu with a mere 280 employees as compared to mighty Eizo's stable of 1637. When you're me, you learn these types of things. I do this not because such things are important, but just because the information is out there... like a digital Mt. Everest only with much less death and excitement.

I know Nanao Confectionary best from the "Golusia" gaufrette European-style cookies and their even tastier Japanese-style ginger cookies. I reviewed both of these products favorably, and probably underestimated the appeal of the latter in my review. With a good track record, I was looking forward to sampling these papiro cookies. Incidentally, "papiro" is French for "papyrus" and refers to the fact that these are thin sheets of dough wrapped around themselves like a paper scroll. Papyrus scrolls, however, are not filled with tasty cream, just things like Egyptian hieroglyphs and family histories that Dan Brown can use to write novels.

I've had similar ones in Japan before, so I had some idea what to expect. My previous experiences taught me that these would be a crispy outer shell with supremely light, fatty filling. In fact, they are a rolled version of the gaufrette cookies and are likely made with exactly the same recipe. The outer shell is rather hard and quite brittle. It's mainly there for texture and as a delivery mechanism for the light as a cloud cream filling and it's modest green tea notes with faint sweetness. This is one of those very subtle Japanese sweets that is designed more for texture than taste. Your tongue has to almost strain to detect the flavors, but your mouth is so happy for the feeling that it's indifferent to the effort. At about 47 calories per small cookie (each is about the size of my pinkie finger, only a bit fatter), they won't break the calorie bank as long as you have some self-control.

I liked these a fair bit and I'd buy them again, but I have to confess that I have a lot of nostalgia associated with this style of snack and that they aren't especially sweet or strong-tasting. I found them and a Japanese market for about $2.20 (220 yen) and probably overpaid for them at that price. I think this is the sort of thing that Daiso Japan carries for $1.50 when they carry them. In fact, they often carry the vanilla papiro version of this so I may see if I can pick it up and try it out, too. Unfortunately, you can't order these online from Daiso Japan as their snack selection is very limited for web shoppers (it's much better in the actual stores).

If you like something subtle with some satisfying textural contrasts, then you may enjoy these. I'm not sure, however, that what is to my tastes in this case would necessarily suit my readers.

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