Nama choco. When Valentine hell is paved with weird ideas…

Nama choco. That’s a ganache, a melty creamed chocolate.
Yes, I’m covering you with chocolate. It’s the season. We have no Christmas nor Easter chocolates in Japan, that’s all for Valentine. Read here about the local tradition and the shopping party

Nama means “raw”, but nama choco is not raw chocolate. That’s because these ganaches are made with cream (nama cream > raw cream) and also because in Japan, like anywhere, you can buy 2 types of cakes/sweets, some are dry and can be kept a while in a cupboard, some are fresh and should be eaten in a few days or hours. They are called higashi (dry sweets) second type are called namagashi (fresh sweets). So we have this fresh chocolate.

These square ones are called ishidatami choco and sometimes we can see the French name “pavés au chocolat”. Both mean chocolate sett/cobblestones. But, but… when I speak in French, a “pavé au chocolat” is a small cake like a brownie.

Normal recipe : Heat one cup of full cream at about 80 degrees. Then mix in 1.5 cup of grated dark chocolate, stir till it becomes a velvet sauce. Add in flavoring syrup, sugar (or for a pro finish glucose gel). Pour on baking sheet. Let 30 minutes. Then 30 minutes in the fridge. Cut squares and roll them in cocoa. Store up to 5 days in the fridge.

Bwa ha ha… Fugly ! That’s why people buy them, to get them so perfectly shaped. Well, no with the normal recipe, they can easily be perfect.

What happened :
I made them vegan. I didn’t have to, just an idea like that.
I had no cream in stock, no chocolate (I keep only chocolate mass… because of mice, you know). And I had some coconut cream to use or lose. Also, I have trouble digesting raw cream so I thought coconut cream would make the easier on the stomach… well it didn’t.

So I took 1 cup coconut cream with a little almond oil + 1.5 cup of cocoa mass. Both ingredients react differently from dairy cream and chocolate. Cocoa mass is less fat than chocolate, it contains more solids, less fat. They didn’t mix in, the fat was floating over… So I have made a sort of mousse with the hand-mixer and I had to spread it while it was already hardened. They are irregular and they had some stains of white on the top (imperfectly blended fat) that I could scrap away.
Bottom line : don’t do that. Use either normal cream or normal chocolate and your life will be easier.

But they are great in taste !

Really delicious like those from the best chocolatiers ? No, much better !
Flavoring is a subtle mix of apricot liquor, bitter almond and coffee. That adds to the coconut and sweet almond oil used as cream. They are very light in sugar.
Let’s decorate them :

With snow. Well, icing sugar.

Girly. With sweet potato powder.

Sparkling. With sweet cinnamon and shiny sugar.


Ume plum blossoms for an early Spring tea

Ume (Japanese sour plum) trees are blossoming in Osaka. Their fragrance is like in a dream.

Old style yatsuhashi sweets (from a shop, not home-made). They are a specialty tea cake of Kyoto, whose production started in Yatsuhashi (8 bridge street) in 17th Century.

The oldest ones were yaki yatsuhashi that are cookies, shape in half cylinder, like the bridge that gave the name. Today, it’s nama yatsuhashi (fresh time), a more recent type.

My green tea looks muddy. I have added a little matcha (ceremony powdered tea) in my cup of sencha (Japanese leaf tea)…
Matcha is NOT powdered sencha, they are from different tea leaves, from tea bushes grown differently, so tastes differ, but they went well together.

This yatsuhashi is matcha flavored. This is a variation, not too recent. They recommend it for this season as green is the color of Spring, of course.

The sweet is made of a sheet of mochi, inside tsubuan (chunky sweetened azuki beans).The powder around is kinako (roast soy bean flour) slightly sweetened.
To know more about ingredients :
Wagashi Saga : Photo-menu of all Japanese sweet posts.

Now, hanami, the blossom viewing festival means cherry blossoms in Japan. Over 1000 years ago, ume plum blossoms were the most popular , and there were other flower events. High society refined people would have small picnics under the tree, to hear poetry and music.
All these traditions were those of the princes of China. Japanese nobles imported their lifestyle and pertpetuaded long after it became extinct in China.

The historic yatsuhashi, the nikki flavor. Nikki is cassia, Chinese cinnamon. Yes, that’s the one that is toxic, but amounts are small here.

They recommend this flavor for the season as the nikki taste is complex and fragrant and relates to the smell of the ume flowers.

Hey, you don’t eat anything at any time of the year, in Old Japan. You have to tune all your life to nature, stars and moon.