Just one week to go till Christmas! I know we live in uncertainty at the moment especially in the UK. However, how about having Japanese sweets with your family for this year’s Christmas? I know it will be difficult to gather with many friends but you can have a little cheerful time with your family by sharing these little festive sweets.
The four festive sweets have all different centre filling and are going to be in a box set.
The Wagashi members are
- Father Christmas: Nerikiri with smooth Adzuki (red) bean paste filling
- Rudolf: Mochi type with Sweet Chestnut filling
- Snowman: Mochi type with Yuzu flavoured filling
- Christmas Wreath: Nerikiri with Matcha flavoured filling
They are all Vegan and Gluten free.
The Christmas Wagashi Box are available to preorder from here now and you can collect it from the Havan Store (262 Kensington High St, London) between the 22nd- 24th December.
*PLEASE NOTE: This box set is for collection only!
In the previous post, I introduced my Mochi Watermelon. It’s a Mochi-type Japanese sweet which looks like a Watermelon on a tiny scale. So on this post, I’d like to show you what the inside of the sweet looks like.
The inside of Mochi Watermelon
So this is what the inside of the sweet looks like.
I have been creating several Japanese sweets with summer fruits. They are mochi with nectarines, coconut & pineapple etc and the newest version are these ones in the photo. It’s Mochi Watermelon.
They are Mochi type sweets in the shape of Watermelons. The centre filling was made with plenty of watermelon juice so it is not just the shape that the sweet is like a watermelon, but the flavour is the real too. For the fruit seeds I added some black sesame seeds inside. I was a little sceptical for adding coarse ingredient into a smooth sweet, however, it was a big delight to find out the little crunch of sesame seeds gives a great texture in your mouth.
These sweets are Vegan and Gluten free.
These Mochi Watermelons are one of the Japanese sweets available for you at the Havan Store (262 Kensington High St, London) weekends now with pre-order. Another available sweets are Matcha Strawberry Mochi Daifuku and Coconut & Pineapple Mochi.
When is the best season for having Mont Blanc sweets? It’s using chestnuts so I assume it must be Autumn. However, being a chestnut food lover there is no such thing as a bad time for having Mont Blanc for me.
Mochi Mont Blanc
So I created this Mochi version of Mont Blanc. On top of a soft mochi type sweet plenty of chestnut cream swirled up. It was a little hard to squeeze out chestnut paste and it does not look as I wanted. However, it is a hand/home-made sweets after all. If it tastes good, who cares.
The 3rd of March, was Hina-matsuri the Girls’ Day in Japan. People celebrated the girls’ healthy growth by placing Hina-dolls and having some special food and drink on this day. The most famous meal for this day is Chirashi Sushi with clear soy sauce based soup with clams. Since it is the flowering season of Plum tree, the day is also called Momo-no-sekku which means Plum blossom day. In sweets wise we have Hishi-mochi, a diamond-shaped tri-coloured mochi in green, white and pink, and Hina-rice-crackers etc.
I made a Mochi type sweet for this year’s Hina-matsuri. What I wanted to create was a mochi which reminds of Hishi-mochi sweet.
The transition period from the end of a year to New Year in Japan is interesting. Traditionally we close a year by listening ‘Joya-no-kane’, 108 gongs of a huge bell at a Buddhism temple. In the Buddhism world it is believed that each person has 108 evil passions so each time hitting the bell it is removing our passion from us before starting the new year.
However, when we celebrate the New Year in a totally Shinto style. Of course we are all sin-less thanks to the Joya-no-kane on the previous night so it is a happy celebratory morning. When I was a child my family used to have a morning bath and changed into brand new underwear. When we sat at the table the first thing to do is haveing a little alcoholic beverage called ‘O-toso’ in a flat goblet and hope that all family would be well and healthy all through the year. We moved onto the breakfast having ‘O-sechi’ (special New Year meal prepared previously) and ‘O-zoni’ (Mochi in broth).
There are so many other customs we do only in New Year but one of them is placing ‘Kagami-Mochi’ in certain places. It is basically a set of two round mochi ( which are pounded glutinous savoury rice and not the dessert mochi sweets with ice cream inside) with a citrus fruit ‘Dai-dai’ on top. Normally it also gets decorated with some green leaves and white paper cut into Shinto style, but how you decorate it depends on the family.
All the things I wrote above are the customs in Japan. I’ve been living in the UK for a long time and haven’t done much traditional custom in the past, however, I felt I wanted to do some for this year so I made Kagami-mochi.
How was the weather where you are yesterday? It was the day the full-moon should be seen last night that people in Japan celebrate and enjoy viewing the beauty of it. By hoping to see the beautiful full moon we traditionally eat round (moon-shaped) Mochi. However, the shape of the Mochi varies depending on the area.
I was hoping to see the beautiful full moon and made two types of Tsukimi Dango. ‘Tsuki’ means moon and ‘Mi (Miru)’ means to view in Japanese.
Yesterday, the 22nd of September, was the Autumnal Equinox Day this year. One week period around that day is called ‘Higan’ in Japan and people cleanse ourselves spiritually by doing right things and cleaning ancestors’ graves.
On the culinary side of this tradition during the week we have sweets called ‘Ohagi’. It is a mochi type sweet with half pounded sweet rice with ‘Azuki’ sweet red bean paste. Some of them are flavoured and decorated with ‘Kinako’ toasted soyabean powder, green seaweed or black sesame seeds.
I love Ohagi and can eat 2-3 pieces of them easily all one go! It is normally quite big and filling, and for the people who’d like to try all the flavours for a teatime it might be a little hard. So I made a version of all three types of sweets on one skewer! In this way everyone can taste all the flavours. 🍡
Do you know Mochi? Have you eaten any before? Mochi is one of the recent phenomena in the Japanese food industry that became very popular in the world all of a sudden as a surprise. It’s a soft gooey rice cake that was made by pounding glutinous rice. It can be either sweet or savoury and also hot or cold.
The best know Mochi in the western countries is the one with ice cream inside and the other type is with a fresh Strawberry and sweet bean paste wrapped up inside the Mochi sheet. This Strawberry ‘Daifuku’ Mochi is one of my favourites, however, it is not just strawberry that the Mochi goes so well with. You can have all sorts of juicy fresh fruit in a Mochi.
Here is my creation of Raspberry Mochi to show you that. I selected juicy but firm raspberries and filled them with smooth raspberry sauce. I wrapped them up carefully with a sheet of sweet and soft Mochi.
This Raspberry Mochi is one of my regular products when I have a market stall that I know people love. I was planning to have a stall in a big Japanese culture market in June and it was sadly cancelled unfortunately of course because of the pandemic.
However, a great news for the people who live in London is that you can get two of my Wagashi Japanese sweets at the moment. This Raspberry Mochi is one of them and I received great feedback already from the customers. They are served at the Havan Store (262 Kensington High St, London W8 6ND). You are not allowed to walk into the shop yet but you can get a takeaway.
The Havan is located right next to Holland Park so how about getting some sweets and their gorgeous Matcha tea as a takeaway and have a lovely teatime in the park. 😋💕
During the Elderflower season in May I made two things to preserve the loveliness of the flowers. One of them is the famous Elderflower Cordial and the other one is Elderflower Champagne. Both are made in a similar way by keeping fresh flowers in a sugary water with lemon and lime to extract the flavour and the scent of flowers into the liquid. You can make a refreshing summer drink by adding water to a little amount of the cordial.
However, I wanted to have it not just as a drink, I wanted to taste it as a Japanese sweet. I wonder what type of sweet is the most suitable for using Elderflower flavour and then thought it should be definitely soft Mochi.
As the Mochi sweet with Elderflower flavour, the look has to be very simple and the colour scheme has to be white.