Category Archives: Japanese Desserts

♥ Mont Blanc // モンブラン ♥

So, here it is: my last post of June’s Japanese dessert month.


It’s been a challenge — I had to make the matcha castella three times before I got it right — the soufflé cheesecake, twice — barely salvaged a dango disaster — but it’s also been fun.

Reminiscing about Japan through baking and blogging has been bittersweet.

Although it didn’t seem as rosy-coloured to my adult self as it did to me as a teen, I still gathered a lot of unique experiences and new perspectives.

Japan is a historically rich and culturally diverse nation, brimming with beautiful landscapes and architecture, and full of kind people.

And, of course — Japan is full of amazing food!

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♥ Purin // プリン ♥

In Japan, one pudding reigns supreme!

That’s because purin (pronounced poo-reen) is the phonetically-derived Japanese version of the English word “pudding” and it’s sold everywhere in Japan.

Okay — purin to pudding might seem like a stretch to your ears, but it works if you know the rules and sound patterns for Japanese.

More examples: the Japanese, lemon-lime flavoured soft drink, ramune (pronouced rah-moo-nay), comes from the word lemonade.

Japanese also use the word furutsu (foo-root-sue) for fruit, and the word pan (pahn) from the French word pain, for bread.

Anyways, when I was in Kyoto last summer, I decided that the best use of my (very sparing) free time would be to see Fushimi-Inari shrine, home of 10,000 torii gates.

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♥ Adzuki-Mandarin Roll // タルト ♥

This adorable cake roll comes from the city of Matsuyama, located on the smallest of Japan’s main islands, Shikoku.

Matsuyama is a must-see city if you ever have the good fortunes of visiting Japan.

Originally, I traveled there for one reason, just to visit Dōgo Onsen, but ended up finding a lot more reasons to love the place!

Old fashioned trams, peaceful and lush public parks, an ancient castle atop a hill in the middle of the city, a sub-tropical climate, and easy to walk around!

Dōgo Onsen is the jewel of the city, though — it’s a 1000-year-old, traditional Japanese bathhouse (open to the public) and model on which the enchanted bathhouse in Spirited Away was designed.

You can just go to bathe in a get-in-and-get-out style, or you can get the Dōgo deluxe treatment: a special robe, a semi-private bath, and then a private room on the 2nd floor with tea and snacks afterwards.

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♥ Mitarashi Dango // みたらし団子 ♥

For those of you who aren’t already used to Asian snacks, this recipe might seem a little weird at first.

Trust me when I say, though, that the hardest part about eating mitarashi dango is finding the two kinds of rice flour that you need to make them! Try to buy the flours at your local Asian grocer or in the gluten-free section of your local supermarket.

Anyways, dango are simply Japanese dumplings — they’re soft, a little chewy, and only very slightly sweet.

You can find different kinds of dango all over Japan, since they’re sold in supermarkets, convenience stores, tea houses, and as street food.

Although, if you’re ever in Japan, make sure you definitely do not actually eat your street food on the street!

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♥ Soufflé Cheesecake // チーズケーキ ♥

In North America, when we think of cheesecake, we think of a slice of super dense, super rich, creamy, custard-based dessert.

In Japan, though, their default cheesecake is a slice of sweetness that’s much lighter than our own, yet still manages to be unbelievably creamy (and without all that stomachache-inducing richness)!

While there are maybe types of Japanese cheesecake, the origin of soufflé cheesecake probably lies somewhere in the fact that Japan takes most of its cues from French baking.

While North American baking tends to be sweet, dense, and leavened with baking soda, Japanese baking incorporates a lot of whipped egg whites, creams, and less sugar.

This is why you can’t find a decent chocolate chip cookie in Japan!

Also, good luck finding unsweetened sandwich bread, a decent cup coffee under 500¥, or a cafe that opens before 8am — seriously.

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♥ Matcha Castella // 抹茶カステラ ♥

No compendium of Japanese desserts would be complete without castella cake!

In Japan, the history of castella cake is common knowledge and universally agreed upon (which is actually unusual when it comes to cakes, since you’ll often find lots of people arguing as to who invented what first and where).

Long story made short: Portuguese traders introduced it to Japan through Nagasaki sometime in the 16th century.

Unlike a lot of other regional foods, however, you don’t have to go all the way to Nagasaki to get castella — which, by the way, is also unusual because Japanese people often pride themselves on maintaining its separate regional food specialties.

Because of the respect for boundaries between regional culinary practices, eating in Japan can be both fun and frustrating at the same time.

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