Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tirol Premium Tiramisu

I grew up in a rural area where people ate a lot of potatoes, corn, chicken and beef. "Dessert" to us was usually ice cream or pie. Things like tiramisu were alien to us. In fact, I'm guessing anyone who even talked about such things with a sense of curiosity or longing would be viewed as trying too hard to be some snooty food connoisseur. Hence, my first exposure to tiramisu came during the period when it was a monumental food fad in Japan in the late 80's/early 90's. It hasn't exactly faded away since then, and the continuing release of chocolates like this is evidence of that.

For those who grew up like me and aren't familiar with tiramisu (all 2 or 3 of you), it's an Italian dessert made with ladyfingers (or cake), coffee, cocoa, liqueur, and Mascarpone cheese. Well made tiramisu is a textural and taste delight with depth and a certain delicacy. The last time I tasted something which was supposed to be the real deal was a sample at Costco, and it was heavy and nasty beyond belief. Most of what is on offer in Japan is a thin layer of yellow sponge cake with a mixture of whipped cream, cocoa, and coffee flavors. It's good, but also clearly no authentic.

Yeah, it broke into fragments when I tried to cut it in half.

The chocolate tries to emulate the layered sense and look of the real dessert including having a layer with cocoa powder in it. The look is rather easier to convey than the complex flavors of chocolate, coffee and mascarpone cheese. The main thing that this was going to lack was the textural elements of tiramisu. However, the flavor combination was actually pretty good. There was bittersweet chocolate, cocoa, coffee, and even the vaguest hint of mild cheese. The biggest surprise was that it wasn't too sweet as many Tirol chocolates with white chocolate as a main component are overbearingly sweet.

This was pretty good, not great, but a solid contribution to the Tirol Premium line-up. I wish there had been something else in the layering to add more variation in texture rather than just lots of solid chocolate. Also, while the flavor mixture was good and the sweetness level subdued, each flavor felt a bit flat. You can tell that these are low-quality chocolates, but one can't expect too much of a 1-inch/2.5 cm square for 20 yen (25 cents) that is picked up at a convenience store.

This is a little higher in calories than usual for a Tirol candy at 66. Since it's not incredibly sweet, I'm guessing it's just fattier than usual though the chocolate isn't any softer than usual (and mine was firm because I kept it in the refrigerator). I'm not sure if I would recommend this to others. On the one hand, it's pretty good for what it is and if you're in Japan and can just buy one cheaply and you like coffee chocolates, you might want to give it a try. If you have to pay a higher import price though, or dislike coffee chocolates, I'd say give it a miss. I don't think I'd buy another, but I don't regret having sampled this either.


Burp and Slurp~! said...

Heh. Everytime I see the word "premium" I can't help but think of petrol...

Anonymous said...

Ooohh I tried this when I was in Japan a couple weeks ago! I really enjoyed it! I liked how it was a bit richer than some Japanese choco. :)

Anonymous said...

It looks so yummy! I love coffee flavored sweets, my favorite :)