Traditional Japanese sweets is something I have come to very much like over the years. Like other foreigners new to Japan I could not eat them in the beginning because it was a sweet flavor unlike sweets we have in America. But over the years, as I also came to enjoy and love traditional Japanese cuisine, I also came to like traditional Japanese confectionery, too. There are many types and I like all of them. They especially go well with green tea.
The basic ingredient in many is 餡子, sweet azuki bean paste. The beans are boiled, sweetened with sugar, and mashed into either 漉し餡, smooth anko or 粒あん, chunky anko. Another popular ingredient is 餅, rice cake. The different sweets made with these simple ingredients is pleasing both to the eye and palate. Here are some popular types.
Literally this is translated as “raw sweets”, but I prefer to translate it as “a pure traditional sweet”. Typically they are made of rice flour and anko and delicately shaped by hand, often with seasonal themes. They are also often served at tea ceremonies.
These are soft rice cake wrapped around anko and lightly dusted with potato starch. Sometimes the filling with include other things, such as strawberries, and one variation easily obtained at convenient stores is a variation that is filled with ice cream instead of anko.
These are round, chewy, small, steamed dumplings made of rice flour. They are typically served skewered three or four to a stick and topped with a sweet sauce or bean paste. This is another treat that is often found in convenient stores making them good snacks for ３時のおやつ or an afternoon snack
This is sweet bean paste sandwiched between two pancakes. Sometimes they are filled with other ingredients such as custard cream, whipped cream, or green-tea flavored ice cream.
These are rice cakes made with arrowroot starch powder and look rather like translucent jelly. Often they are dusted with きな粉, roasted soybean flour.
Those are just a few of traditional Japanese sweets that come to mind; there are many, many more, and seeing the different types offered in each season is always a treat, often making it difficult to decide which one to buy!