Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you had a wonderful day yesterday. Today, one day after Christmas, is called Boxing Day and the Winter Holiday continues in the UK. This year I created two Japanese sweets for Christmas. One of them is Poinsettia in my previous post and the other one is Christmas Wreath.
I had been having some idea of making this design for the last two years but this is the first one I tried to make into a shape. This is my Christmas Wreath.
It is the final month of the year and only one week’s left before a brand new year starts. It means the biggest event for most of the families in the UK is coming soon. It is of course Christmas! There are many things that relate to Christmas and one of them which is quite significant is a plant called Poinsettia. Poinsettia is originally for a warmer place but maybe because of its bold colour combination of vivid red and deep green it makes the most Christmassy looking decoration in your house.
This is one of my ‘Wagashi’ Japanese sweets for December.
Christmas Tree seller at the hall entrance
Our annual event of Japanese Christmas Market has just finished! Unlike the last year’s snowy day it was a great sunny day this year! As we expected the great turn out of people I’d say this year’s market was a great success.
We arrived a little earlier on the site even before the doors to the venue opened for the vendors and started preparing our table to be well ready for the arrival of customers … but then I realised that I forgot to bring some of my Japanese sweets products! I had to go home and brings them as quickly as I could since they were quite a big part of my products. Last year I had to go and fetch some stuff on the snowy road on foot. It was so horrible and I had tried to be sure that would not happen this year, however, it did happen again! I was so stupid. Anyway, so I went back home and when I was walking back hurriedly towards the venue I saw a man holding a container that looked like my sweets inside! I thought ‘Wow! Already?!’ It was just a few minutes after the market opened to public and my products were already sold without me. It was a great sign ahead for the day.
This Sunday Sakura Junction will be having a stall in a small Christmas Market in North London. The special thing about this Jolly Hobbies Market is that many stall holders are Japanese or the stuff sold there will be something related to Japanese culture. Hence, it’s Japanese Christmas Market! The number of visitors is definitely increasing every year. This year’s event was notified on Time Out recently so I believe we are going to have very many people.
I have been a part of this event for 7 years now. The products I have dealt with have changed slightly but I always stick to one thing ‘Wagashi’ Japanese sweets. This year I am preparing two types of food. One of them is of course my speciality Wagashi and the other type is ‘Gyoza’ Dumpling cooked on site. As I mentioned on my previous post this year’s Gyoza comes in two flavours. One is for vegetarians and the other one is Turkey meat with Christmas seasoning. I tried tasting at home and it worked very well! So I hope everybody likes it on the day.
I have only two more days to prepare but actually I haven’t decided all the Japanese sweet products selection yet. I have been providing two seasonal sweets for a Kimono shop’s Matcha Bar every month for the last three years so I would like to pick some of the sweets that had received great feedback from their paying customers. A few sweets definitely on my list are Sweet Rose, Apples, Mochi Mont Blanc and Matcha Swirl Mochi so far. Purple Sweet Potato Mochi might be chosen too. I am also going to take one brand new very seasonal sweet I just created with very Christmassy decoration.
Autumn is here! It is the season that some particular delicacies appear in food markets. Such delicacies are mushrooms, persimmon, nuts and so much more. Amongst all these foods in this season the one that stands out especially for Japanese people is definitely Sweet Chestnut. We love Chestnuts very much. We use them for making all sorts of sweets and even for savoury dishes. The most loved sweet with chestnuts in Japan is undoubtedly Mont Blanc which of course is a western cake with a soft sponge as the base and topped up with a swirl of sweet delicious chestnuts cream. Every Autumn when I find sweet chestnuts at a front of green groceries I have been thinking that I would arrange this nations favourite cake into a Japanese sweet ‘Wagashi’ someday.
Mochi Mont Blanc
So this year I finally managed to make my own Japanese sweet version of Mont Blanc. Instead of sponge I used soft sweet ‘Mochi’, rice cake, as the base. For making the delicious Chestnut flavour to stand out, I selected simple plain flavoured one.
Today, the 5th of November, is Guy Fawkes Night and sometime also called Bonfire Night. It is the day that in 1605 Guy Fawkes and a group of people plotted to explode House of Parliament in England. However, they failed and got arrested and then were executed after brutally tortured. Later on people celebrated the attempt of Guy Fawkes and started making bonfires in a square and also putting up fireworks and fire crackers in the evening on Guy Fawkes Night.
So, I made Firework, Japanese sweet. I feel a little odd to post about Fireworks sweet in November. Because Fireworks season is normally summer in Japan and it seems like an out of season post. However, I made this Fireworks sweet for British people and this is one of my monthly sweets for November.
What is the most significant thing /character for Halloween? When you go shopping to a grocery shop or even your usual supermarket, you see many pumpkins piled up in a box. They are for carving into lanterns. I always think it is such a waste if they are just used as lanterns and not to be eaten. Once I was given a big orange pumpkin and I tried cook it instead of carving a scary face on the surface, but I failed, miserably. It was very watery, spongy and tasteless and how ever you cooked, it was unedible!
So my answer for the question I made at the beginning is Jack-O’-Lantern for me! It must be. You see pumpkins everywhere during this season. I made Jack-O’-Lantern Japanese sweet two years ago with Japanese sweet ‘Nerikiri’. It is a material which is very suitable to create a shape and pattern on the surface. This year I made it again, however, the material I used was ‘Mochi’. I wasn’t sure if I could make the detailed look of Jack-O’-Lantern with such a gooey and bumpy material but I tried it anyway.
For the last three years my monthly ‘Wagashi’ Japanese Sweets for October were all in the Halloween theme. For this year it has to be the same. I tried to think very hard this time and then decided to make … Dracula! The idea came to my mind quickly but it took a long time to come up with the design which would be easy enough to create. I finally decided to go for one design after trying so many possible models, however, as I started making it for real, the shape of some parts and the way to create them changed several times.
Dracula, Japanese Sweet
So here it is! The Star of this Halloween!!
I am going to hold another Wagashi Making Experience Workshop in London. It will be in October so the sweets I am planning to show how to make are mainly in a Halloween theme as the photo below.
Wagashi Making Workshop in London
on: the 18th of October (Thursday), 19:00 – 20:30
at : My Cup of Tea (5 Denman Place, London W1D 7AH)
As Autumn gets gradually deepen I always feel like having strong Matcha Green Tea. It may be because it is quite a special season for many Japanese as it is the season of Autumn colour and that reminds us of a scenary in Kyoto, our old capital town that looks great in red and yellow fallen leaves.
Matcha is quite bitter tea so you have to have some sweet before sipping the tea. However, this Autumn I made sweet with Matcha powder instead of drinking Matcha Tea. I used plenty of Tea powdermixed in to a Mochi layer and I also dusted the outside of the sweet with lots of Matcha powder. My Mochi became so green and when you see the round shape covered with this beautiful green, it looks as if it is a stone covered with moss in a Japanese garden in Kyoto.
Cream Matcha Mochi
It is a sweet that has a soft Mochi layer wrapping up whipped fresh cream with Sweet Azuki Bean Paste inside. The outer Mochi layer itself is made with lots of Matcha powder but I finished it up with plenty of Matcha powder dusted around of the Mochi.