Monday, September 7, 2009

Meiji Marron Chocolate Bar

Chestnuts that are still in their protective cocoons are scary things. They have a hairy, barbed cover which is taxing to remove. When I was a kid, occasionally we'd come across them and fight to pry them free of their prickly casing. Of course, as a child, I really was not fond of eating them because we just tasted them raw. Chestnuts are best when roasted, mashed, or processed in some fashion. Raw ones are a bit on the soft side and not very flavorful. I guess the same can be said for many types of nuts, but those types didn't grow in the area behind my family's property.

Who knew that I'd grow up to love them as an adult who lived halfway around the planet. Fortunately, Japan loves chestnut flavored sweets more than America so every year, I can happily sample new things. I was delighted when I found this Meiji Marron (chestnut) bar at a local market for about a dollar (100 yen).

The bar smells like regular chocolate. It has a thin vein of chestnut running through the center which can't be detected by scent. The first taste is of pretty good quality milk chocolate that is creamy and fatty with a small hint of that distinctive Japanese chocolate bitterness (but less than plain chocolate bars) and what seems to be a coffee-like flavor. The chestnut filling is relatively weak at first, but offers mild chestnut flavor and a bit of salt. It's quite nice, but it takes several bites for the chestnut flavor to develop on your taste buds. While eating the first two squares, I couldn't detect the chestnut as much as in the following two pieces.

The bar has 12 squares and 280 calories. I ate 1/3 of it at a time because I am trying to keep my junk food calories down to 100 or less each day. I think the experience might have been more profoundly enjoyable if I'd have eaten more at once due to the way the flavor needs to build up to be detected. The saltiness really seemed to work in this bar, though those who aren't fond of salty chocolate may find it off-putting.

The ingredients for this are a bit curious. It includes a variety of "powder" ingredients including chestnut, cheese, whey, cream, and sweet potato. Getting the flavor profile seems to have required quite a mix. Personally, I'm gratified that the cheese powder didn't come through in the flavor.

I would definitely buy this again. The only thing that stops me from giving it a "very happy" rating is the fact that there isn't enough chestnut filling for my tastes, or at the very least not enough of a strong chestnut flavor relative to the tasty, but not overly exciting, milk chocolate.

This was also reviewed at Ebidebby's "Snack Love".

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