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Archive for April, 2011

I’ve started to count the seasons here by not the weather, but the appearance and disappearance of Japanese sweets, wagashi from the local grocery store.kashiiwaa
I have one weak spot for wagashi devoted wholly to kashiwa mochi 柏餅,which is rice cakes formed into a pancake like shape, and filled with a sweet bean paste, then wrapped in a oak or kashiwa leaf. The sweet is associated with Children’s Day 子供の日 in May. I specifically love the ones filled with a mixture of miso an, or sweet white bean paste mixed with a small amount of salty Saikyo miso paste.

From the middle of April, I start to keep an eye on the wagashi corner of the grocery store, and do a little happy dance when I spot them for the first time in the season. Because these sweets definitely  have a season!  Wait more than a few days after the 5th of May, and you’ll have to wait another year before they come back.  While I like red bean mochi, and generally enjoy the taste of sweet bean paste, sometimes the tooth aching sweetness can be a bit too much even for me.
kashiiwaa2
Miso an filled kashiwa mochi is at once sweet and salty, the miso paste lends a depth of flavor missing from regular red bean paste, making the filling taste almost creamy. I guess adding the miso to the filling is the same concept as adding flaky sea salt to a chocolate cookie, or salted caramels, the salty taste accenting the taste of the white bean paste and preventing the filling from being overly sweet. It’s difficult even in Japan to find wagashi shops that still make miso an kashiwa mochi, but if by chance you do find a place selling them, please give them a try!

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sugar cookie
Sometimes things happen in life that kind of knock you out of your regular routine, and it takes you a little bit to get back into the swing of things. Baking delicious things that simultaneously heat my apartment and make it smell like warm butter, sugar and vanilla is my way of getting back a sense of normalcy.

This recipe makes sugar cookies that are slightly crisp on the outside and soft in the middle. They are simple and not perfect, but exactly what I wanted to munch on while curled up with some tea and watching back episodes of Good Eats.

Ingredients:

  • 100g butter, salted, softened
  • 200g powdered sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 250g flour
  • 20g baking powder
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

—————
1. Preheat oven to 170C. In a medium bowl, cream softened butter and powdered sugar together until well combined, and until it lightens in color and is slightly fluffy. (use a stand mixer if you like)
2. Mix in eggs, one at a time until well combined.
3. Stir in vanilla extract, almond extract and nutmeg
4. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking power and salt, then add it to the butter and sugar mixture. Stir well.
5. Use a spoon or cookie scoop to drop roughly golf ball sized balls of dough onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet, and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies are just about to turn a pale golden brown. Bake less for softer cookies, and a bit longer if you like your cookies crisp.

**while I tend to just eat these cookies as they are, I’m pretty sure they would be fantastic frosted, or rolled in sugar as well.

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