Monday, July 2, 2012

Furuta Green Tea Sand Cookies

Shortly before I returned to the United States, the Oreo cookie, perhaps the world's most famous sandwich cookie, turned 100 years old. The concept of two cookies with some sort of sweet filling between them likely pre-dates the venerable Oreo by centuries as it seems natural for someone to see a couple of plain cookies and think about how it might be interesting to put some honey, jam, cream, butter, or other sweet filling between them. However, the processed packaged sort of sandwich cookie is a product of our modern age and bless the person who invented them. I haven't found even a bad sandwich cookie that I hated, though I've certainly had a few that I didn't exactly love.

As I've mentioned before, having grown up poor, I never ate Oreos. We had store brand cookies. You know, the sort that you used to buy in industrial sized packages for about a dollar. Each plastic package had enough empty calories to keep you energized but malnourished for weeks. Of course, my mother didn't buy those cookies all that often because, you know, poor folks back in my day didn't do that too often. We were too busy poaching deer so we'd have meat for awhile or stealing a Christmas tree from the distant areas of some poor sap's farm. 

At any rate, I love sandwich cookies, but I rarely buy packages of them for one big reason. They are almost always calorie-dense. My husband and I bought some peanut butter Oreos when we were still on the San Juan islands because Japan doesn't sell peanut butter and chocolate sweets and the idea was so marvelously American that we had to indulge. Unfortunately, the package, which was a "regular" one, took us a little over a month to consume. Both of us are still a little taken aback by the way in which it's hard to buy very small portions outside of convenience stores and their supposed "snack packs". When I checked the nutrition information, I noted that each peanut butter Oreo was a whopping 71 calories. For that price, I could enjoy three vanilla meringue cookies or an entire piece of most types of fruit. 

Still, sometimes, you have to spoil yourself (as Ned Flanders says), and you have a craving for a sandwich cookie with its crispy outer planks and creamy inner filling. And sometimes, you've lived in Japan for a long time and are "homesick" for its flavors and decide that green tea sounds pretty damn good right now. Such was the case for me when I found these at the Daiso Japan for a $1.50 (120 yen). The box contains 10 somewhat largish (a bit bigger than an Oreo) sandwich cookies and they come with the bargain calorie count of 51 calories each. They're also fortified with Calcium and that may provide you with some comfort if you're the sort of person who feels the need to nutritionally justify your junk food consumption (I'm not). 

Most people feel that the sandwich cookie succeeds or fails on the cream filling, but I'm actually more about the quality of the outer cookies. Sure, the cream is important, but if the cookie is bad, that makes the filling irrelevant. It's like a good cup of coffee. It doesn't matter how great the cream you use is. If the brew is not good, the experience is ruined.

Fortunately, the cookie exterior on this is very nice. It has a nice snap with the right amount of fat-induced flakiness. It either has a good carmelized sugar flavor or is made with brown sugar because it definitely has that sort of edge to it. The ingredients do not specify anything other than "sugar". It probably helps that they are made, at least in part, with whole wheat flour and their is a small hint of earthiness rather than the flat blandness of white flour.

The filling is a bit scarce, but that's okay because it carries just the right balance of green tea bitterness with some sugary sweetness. The only thing which could be better is some more textural decadence with more fatty interior, but I'm not complaining. These are solid cookies on every front, though they absolutely don't carry the sort of over-the-top sweetness that Oreo cookies do. The best thing about that is that there is nice flavor depth. You can taste the cookie's quality's as well as the filling. I'd definitely buy these again. Though I can't say I'd want to keep them on hand at all times, I'm not sure I can say that of most of the things I enjoy. If you're a green tea fan, they're absolutely worth a visit.

Note: If you can't access these any other way, I found them online at a place called eFood Depot for $3.95 a box. They're a little expensive there, but for those determined to try them (especially serious green tea lovers), they're likely worth the price. 


Rodzilla said...

I wouldn't call 70 calories whopping, it seems right in line with most mass produced cookies. Do you aim to meet a certain number of calories each day?

Orchid64 said...

For such a tiny portion, 70 calories is pretty high. Oreos are sugar-packed and dense. If you compare an Oreo to a vanilla meringue cookie, which is bigger and comes in at only 25 calories, it's pretty hefty. The same for this Japanese sandwich cookie in comparison - a somewhat bigger cookie of a similar type for about 20 fewer calories. It reflects the very sugary nature of an Oreo.

While I don't have a certain number of calories I eat every day, I do attend to what I call the "calorie to enjoyment ratio" of snack foods. Some pleasures come "cheap" and some are "expensive". Some are worth the expense (good chocolate). Some are not. I like Oreos, but generally don't see them as "worth" the cost when there are other things which are equally pleasurable and less calorie dense (for me personally, YMMV).

Thanks for your comment!

Midori said...

I love your Blog! I've bought them 2 years ago in Duesseldorf, Germany. One of my favourite cookies.
Hope to see more interesting snacks from you. You're lucky (or maybe sometimes not ;) haha) for tasting all of these snacks.

thonky said...

Sand cookies: not made of sand. I hope. :)

Rodzilla said...

I gauge calories to enjoyment as well, my ratios are just set a bit differently.

Still interested to hear your thoughts on other American Classics since you've been back. Nutter Butters?

Rebecca Ong said...

They sell at Singapore's Daiso:)