Special Seasonal Japanese Sweets

Wagashi are traditional Japanese sweets usually served with tea. Both the ingredients and shapes are tied to the season, says Louise. “For example, you will see cherries and cherry blossoms in the spring, and maple leaf shaped ones in the fall, and never the other way around,” she says. They’re rich and sweet, but not fatty-tasting, and they might be filled with “stuff like dense chestnut or bean paste,” says Louise.

You can sometimes buy wagashi at a Japanese grocery store, but the best wagashi are made by artisan specialists. chococat is lucky enough to have a local wagashi maker: “She does everything by hand and makes a very limited selection each season.”

Many wagashi are traditional, but there is room for creativity and variation within the art, says Louise. “So far, my favorite is the cherry wagashi wrapped in a pickled cherry leaf,” says chococat. “The ‘fern root’ wagashi has an interesting/disturbing texture (like a live jellyfish) that is surprisingly addictive.”

Minamoto Kitchoan supplies fresh wagashi by mail order, says Low Country Jon.

Board Link: Wagashi, anyone?

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