Thursday, November 4, 2010
Morinaga Chocolate Caramel
Morinaga offers a variety of caramels in an old-fashioned box design. They both attract and push you away because they seem uniquely Japanese, but they seem like the sort of thing that your grandfather kept in a drawer in his garage when the taste in his mouth from chewing tobacco felt a bit funky and he didn't feel like rinsing off his dentures.
The truth is that my experiences with this line has revealed a very finely-made caramel with a soft texture. The "black sugar" caramels remain one of my favorites. For those with other tastes, there are also adzuki, green tea and plain old caramels available as well. This chocolate version is new. The web site for the product says they were released in Tokyo in August of this year. It also promises that the sweet chocolate and caramel flavors will "satisfy the heart".
The ingredients for this include "syrup" (probably sugar syrup or fructose-based syrup), sweetened condensed milk, sugar, vegetable oil, cocoa powder, wheat protein, butter, black honey, salt, sorbitol, and "flavorings". One thing about most Japanese caramels is that they are rarely made with butter, so they are fine in texture and tasty, but lack deep, rich buttery flavor. That's generally not a problem, but it does make them a different experience from eating European-made caramel.
You can find these in most supermarkets and dedicated snack shops. For the time being, they are also available in convenience stores, but I'm guessing that will change once the product ages a little more. The price is usually 100 yen ($1.20). There are 12 caramels (4.9 grams/.17 oz.) in the box and each is 21 calories.
Candy like this often does not have a strong scent and this was no exception. It smelled faintly like caramel. The texture is nice and soft , offering a good chew without pulling out your fillings. The caramel is pleasantly sweet without being overbearing, but it doesn't really taste strongly of anything and the chocolate element is so weak as to be nearly undetectable. The fact that "cocoa" is so far down the list of ingredients is a clue as to why this may be the case.
These are fine enough as a generic caramel. They are well-crafted and pleasant to chew on, but ultimately don't leave much of an impression. Certainly, I'll slowly finish the box, but I wouldn't buy them again. I'd rather buy the more flavorful black sugar caramels.