sweets

We spend a morning with an expert wagashi chef creating no-bake traditional Japanese sweets!

If you’re someone who enjoys making treats like cakes and pastries, then perhaps you have first hand knowledge of how baking can sometimes be a tricky affair. Well, in Japan, we have a whole category of wagashi, or traditional Japanese sweets, that aren’t baked at all, called namagashi (literally, “raw confectionaries”). Namagashi are typically made from various colorful bean pastes and often crafted into delicate seasonal-themed shapes.

Earlier this month, we participated in a seminar to experience what namagashi-making is like. Join us as we see how a master chef creates beautiful flowers from bean paste, and then try our not-so-expert hand at creating our own confections!

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Make your own “wagashi” Japanese sweets at home with these creation kits

Pretty much anyone can pick up some brownie mix at the local grocer, crack an egg into a bowl, mix, and end up with a piping hot tray of delicious goodies. That’s child’s play (literally, if you’re using an Easy Bake).

It’s another thing altogether to create some truly Pinterest-worthy “wagashi” Japanese sweets. You know what we’re talking about: The wabi-sabi-riffic, colorful eye-and-mouth candy we’ve gushed over here on this very site time and again.

Wagashi are equally intimidating items to make for foreigners and Japanese alike, often calling for seemingly exotic ingredients, mysterious baking methods and coming in hard-to-replicate shapes and sizes. But, lucky for enthusiasts, there’s now a series of home kits available online to make the process a (relative) breeze!

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Delicious cherry blossom-flavored treats are in full-bloom in Japanese stores

Congratulations, you’ve made it through another winter in (hopefully) one piece! Spring is here and much of the northern hemisphere is enjoying the first signs of new greenery and Japan’s favorite flower, sakura (cherry blossom), are starting to decorate the landscape.

The only thing better than relaxing under the sakura trees is relaxing under the sakura trees while consuming one of many delicious sakura flavored goodies. But you have to get them quickly, because they are as fleeting as the flowers themselves.

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We try the world’s first Kit Kat sandwich at First Kitchen, find out it’s like a bad date

Japan is a country serious about its Kit Kat candy bars, treating them with the respect of gourmet chocolate and putting them on top of pizza. Now the Japanese fast food chain First Kitchen has brought the world its first Kit Kat sandwich, so we of course had to try what seemed like a delicious idea. Click below for our review of the dessert and why our Kit Kat taster compared it to a bad date

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New “peach and berry tart” Crispy Sandwich from Häagen-dazs makes spring debut

The weather is finally getting warmer and the cherry blossoms are starting to peek out here in Tokyo. So naturally, we’ve started planning all the snacks we’re going to much on during our cherry-blossom viewing parties and picnics.

We’ve already staked out some room in our tummies for Magnolia Bakery’s cherry blossom cupcakes, but we have to consider our ice-cream needs, too. For portable snacking, Häagen-Dazs‘ range of Crispy Sandwich ice cream treats are always a great option. And, as luck would have it, they’re rolling out a special new flavour for spring: Peach and Berry Tart!

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Fans break confectioner’s website in scramble for “kiss-flavored” candies from dating sim hotties

Last Saturday was White Day, the annual Japanese celebration in which men give gifts to women who gave them gifts for Valentine’s Day. As such, confectioners rolled out a huge selection of special offerings for the occasion, and while chocolate is a perennial favorite, shoppers could also choose from strawberry, green tea, cherry blossom, and a variety of other gourmet options.

Among female dating simulator fans, though, the big hit flavor this year seems to have been “kisses.” No, not Hershey’s Kisses, but candy that actually claims to tastes like locking lips with one of six virtual boyfriends. Even stranger, gamers were clamoring to buy them even though no one really knows what “kiss-flavored” means, except that apparently the anime-style heartthrobs’ kisses don’t taste like shellfish.

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First ever Easter Kit Kats in Japan feature 13 types of carrot-flavoured cuteness

Kit Kats in Japan are well-known for their creative designs and flavours, including limited releases for annual events and holidays such as Christmas, Halloween and even the cherry blossom viewing season.

Until now, there was one special holiday that always went unnoticed: Easter. This year, Nestle Japan are releasing their first ever Easter range, with a clever play on words that ties the religious festival to the month of April, the start of the Japanese school and business year.

According to Nestle, Easter is an ii sutaato, which means “good start” in Japanese. And with these gorgeous apple pie and carrot flavoured chocolates on the market, it looks like it’s going to be a very good start indeed.

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Don’t know whether to buy diamonds or candy for White Day? Sweet Jewels could be just the trick!

On White Day, an unabashedly commercial holiday on March 14, Japanese men are expected to buy presents in return for the chocolate they received on equally commercial holiday Valentine’s Day. And with a recent survey showing that limited-edition desserts and sweets are top of women’s wish-lists for White Day, this new offering from confectioner Ameya Eitaro could tick all the boxes.

With designs based on real diamond cuts such as the Koh-i-Noor and the Pasha of Egypt, these are one sweet treat that certainly looks expensive.

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McDonald’s Japan introduces Hawaiian-inspired menu, netizens can’t get over the pancakes

Most anywhere in the world you go, you’re likely to find the familiar golden arches somewhere nearby. For foreigners living in Japan, McDonald’s can provide a quick and inexpensive taste of home, while at the same time giving more adventurous eaters new and exciting twists on the classic McD’s taste with seasonal treats like the pink sakura or black squid-ink burgers. Currently, the chain is offering up some Hawaiian-themed eats, like its barbeque pork burger, banana milkshake, and mixed berry pancakes.

When the craving for pancakes strikes, McDonald’s might not be the first place to come to mind, but Japanese netizens have been pleasantly surprised at just how good the Hawaiian pancakes actually are.

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Disney characters cosplay as adorable edible Easter bunnies for cake maker Cozy Corner

If you were fighting the temptation to dig into confectioner Cozy Corner’s selection of cakes inspired by the leading ladies of the Disney animated canon, congratulations. Your struggle is over, since as of March 4, they’re no longer available.

If, on the other hand, you were hoping to try the stylish sweets for yourself but just couldn’t find the time, you have our sincere sympathies. Don’t feel too bad, though, because no sooner has one set of Cozy Corner Disney desserts bowed out than another has appeared on the scene, this time featuring the studio’s beloved characters cosplaying as Easter bunnies.

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Häagen-Dazs releases new mochi ice cream, and it’s amazing! 【Taste test】

There are a ton of different ways to eat mochi, with roasting it or dropping it into soup or hot pots being some of the more common. Outside of Japan, though, many people’s first encounter with mochi is in the form of ice cream-filled mochi spheres sold at specialty grocers.

But while they make a tasty treat, what would happen if you reversed the process, and instead of putting ice cream in mochi, put mochi into ice cream? That’s the question posed by Häagen-Dazs new kinako kuromitsu mochi ice cream, and we’re here with the answer.

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Mini bakeable Kit Kats return — this time in cheesecake flavor! 【Taste Test】

Some of our readers are undoubtedly aware that we here at RocketNews24 are quite fond of Kit Kats. And while we’re used to seeing the popular chocolate snack in an array of interesting flavors, we have to say we were genuinely intrigued when we heard about “bakeable” Kit Kats last year, as were many other Kit Kat fans across Japan, judging from the fact that the unique sweet attracted enough attention to be turned into pizzas.  Now, the bakeabke Kit Kats have returned, and in a new flavor to boot! Of course, we weren’t about to be kept away from such sweetness.  Join us as we try the new “Bake ‘N Tasty Mini Kit Kats Cheesecake Flavor” (Kit Kat Mini Yaite Oishi Cheesecake Aji)!

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“Do they think we’re stupid?” McDonald’s Japan’s new, unappealing strawberry shortcake and donut

Much like the rest of the world, fast food in Japan is a war of franchises trying to one-up the other. When McDonald’s announced it was getting rid of large-sized fries, Lotteria announced they’d give customers “whatever size they wanted.” When McDonald’s was struggling with the morning crowd, Mos Burger seized the opportunity to strike by offering a traditional Japanese breakfast.

Now that Mister Donut has upped the ante by rolling out a strawberry-chocolate-marshmallow pizza, McDonald’s has answered back with its new strawberry whipped cream donut and shortcake. Who will emerge the victor? Well, so far, it’s looking pretty one-sided.

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Tiramisu soil and a moss parfait: We dig into bonsai treats at Tokyu Hands Cafe

Tokyu Hands is known for its amazing array of goods. From bicycles to Kabuki face masks and everything in between, this is a company that’s built their brand with a focus on providing unique and innovative Japanese products to the local and international market.

Now, the cafe on the top floor of their Shibuya store is also showcasing its creative credibility, by transforming its space into a pop-up Bonsai Cafe, in collaboration with the Omiya Bonsai Museum in Saitama. With miniature trees and special goods on display, here it’s the unusual menu that’s really taking centre stage.

After seeing photos of their special matcha latte, an unusual tiramisu and a parfait served in a bonsai pot, we pulled on our gumboots and headed out on a rainy afternoon to give these treats a try. Come with us as we treat our taste buds to an enchanted walk through a delicious miniature garden.

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Butter-flavored Kit Kats come to Japan as new specialty store opens in Hokkaido

In the year since it opened in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro, we’ve become big fans of the Kit Kat Chocolatory, the specialty store for the chocolate-covered wafers that’re especially popular in Japan. As a matter of fact, somewhere in the course of our multiple visits to procure the latest and greatest Kit Kat flavors, we’ve forgotten what life was like before the shop opened.

But while we’re living in the land of plenty with two different Chocolatory locations in Tokyo (the second is near Tokyo Station), not all of Japan is so fortunate. Until now, only residents of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Nagoya could claim their town had its own Kit Kat paradise.

That’s about to change, though, as a new Kit Kat Chocolatory is opening soon in Hokkaido, and bringing a new flavor with it: butter.

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Marshmallow chocolate Brooklyn pizzas now available at Mister Donut!

Mister Donut stores across Japan have been transporting customers to Brooklyn since the beginning of the year, with a special line-up of hybrid sweets and beverages and even dedicated outlets featuring fittings inspired by the borough’s cool, hip eateries.

Now, a sweet slice of Brooklyn has just landed in stores, in the form of miniature, palm-sized pizzas topped with chocolate, marshmallows and even strawberry sauce. We stopped by for takeout and the results were more delicious than we could have imagined. Check out our photos for the cutest, tiniest slices of pizza you’ve ever seen!

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Starbucks sakura series 2015: Caramel, chocolate and a flowery chiffon cake

With Valentine’s Day out of the way, and plum blossoms still in bloom, it’s time for early spring marketing to burst onto the scene in Japan. Leading the pack, as it does every year, is popular coffee chain Starbucks, with the nation’s other favourite flower, the cherry blossom, taking centre stage in their annual line-up of sakura menu items and merchandise.

This year, the humble cherry blossom meets caramel and chocolate in latte and Frappucino forms, and also finds itself in a beautiful pink and white chiffon cake. Curious to know what sakura tastes like when blended with such sweet partners? Join us as we bring you all the photos and flavours from our recent visit.

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Tokyo Chocolate Round-up: 2015 Valentine’s Day! 【Photos】

If you love sweets — chocolate in particular — Japan in the weeks before Valentine’s Day is definitely a great place to be. Ever since chocolate makers in Japan managed to make it a widespread tradition for women to give chocolates to men on Valentine’s Day, it’s become an annual event to see chocolates being sold at shops everywhere starting in late January, with numerous special promotions and appearances by “celebrity chocolatiers”  to heighten the excitement leading up to the big V-day.

Yes, for chocolate lovers, it’s a blissful time of year — there’s nothing quite like stepping into a department store and seeing a huge space filled with chocolates of all shapes and sizes while being surrounded by the rich, earthy scent of cacao. But now that Valentine’s Day is over, we may be developing a case of the post-Valentine’s blues, so to console ourselves, we’ve put together a collection of photos showcasing some of the most memorable chocolate items we saw this Valentine’s season in Japan.

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Disney Girls turned into beautiful bite-sized cakes with sweet collection from Cozy Corner!

Over the years, we’ve already seen some lovely creations by Japanese confection maker Ginza Cozy Corner with Disney themes, including sumptuous mini-cakes inspired by Disney villains and characters from the mega-hit film Frozen. This time, to celebrate the “Girl’s Day” festival called Hina Matsuri coming up in Japan next month on March 3, the folks at Cozy Corner have once again come up with some sweet magic, this time in the form of small cakes symbolizing some of Disney’s best known gals. It’s the “Petit Gateau Disney Girl’s Collection” featuring nine of  Disney’s female stars, from Minnie Mouse to Elsa, transformed into bite-sized treats that should be both sweet to taste and a delight to look at!

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Frozen marshmallow cream: Just two ingredients, at least as good as ice cream 【RocketKitchen】

Every now and again, we stumble across a dessert recipe that’s so simple and tasty, it almost feels like we’ve discovered some sort of hidden secret that man wasn’t meant to know. Last year, we found out that instead of making pancakes one at a time, we could just make one huge one in a rice cooker, sprinkle in some green tea powder, and have a dessert that looks and tastes great with no fuss at all.

But what if you prefer chilled desserts to hotcakes? No problem. We recently tried a recipe for a frozen marshmallow dessert that may or may not technically be ice cream, but amazingly creates something that tastes even better from just two ingredients, and takes almost as few steps to make.

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