If you think Japanese cuisine has little in the way of dessert, you’ve got a delicious surprise coming. You may have tried green tea ice cream, but that of course is not a traditional Japanese dessert. Then there’s mochi, which is pounded rice balls with our without some sweet red beans in the middle. Today, however, we’re going to touch on one of the less well-known desserts among foreign Japanese food aficionados: kuromitsu kinako mochi (phew!), or “brown sugar syrup sticky rice with roasted soy flour.” With a word jumble like that, it might just sound better in Japanese!
The foundation of this desert is firm mochi which has been warmed up, usually in a toaster oven, to make it soft, fluffy, and moderately chewy. At this point, just a touch of hot water is sometimes added to make it even softer. On top of the mochi is dusted a roughly 5:1 mixture of roasted soy flour (“kinako”) and brown sugar, with just a pinch of salt thrown in for good measure. On top of all this, rich, brown sugar syrup is drizzled. It’s a fairly simple execution, so there is heavy reliance on the quality of the ingredients.
Eating this sticky-but-delicious little mound of joy would be quite a challenge using chopsticks, so generally a small spoon is provided. A nice hot cup of green tea (no sugar added, of course) goes particularly well with this dessert.
Desserts like this have been popular since around the 14th century, with an especially strong presence having developed over time in the Osaka/Kyoto/Nara/Kobe (“Kansai”) region. Today, with regional differences not as stark as they once were, desserts like this are available all over the country.
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