Wagashi, the traditional Japanese confectionary, is renowned for its variety of generous categories. No matter what kind it is, wagashi is always reminiscent of a popular and excellent soybeans product, “kinako”, the roasted, finely-milled and dried soybean flour with a toasted, warm and nutty aroma, which always reminds our peanut butter.
Thanks to its high nutritional value of protein and vitamin B content, the golden tan colored kinako is not uncommon to be used for garnishing different mochi (warabi, dango or daifuku), dusting on frozen desserts (ice cream, sweet shaved ice), adding into western baked food (roll cakes, castella, dacquoise) and even pouring with beverages (milk or smoothies). Flavoring rich and complex, kinako effortlessly enriches the delicacies to help the sweet, toasty and nutty tastes pop, becoming more mysterious and one-of-a-kind.
Kinako confectionary is always endeavored by both local Japanese and tourists. Let’s take a look at a total of 17 Japanese sweet delicacies complemented by the healthy kinako ingredient introduced as follows:
17 Japanese confections associated with kinako ingredient
1. Warabi mochi
While talking about a Japanese confectionery made by kinako, “warabi mochi” is definitely on the list. The traditional sweet is kind of Japanese mochi (rice cakes) made from bracken starch (ferns and rhizome) and recently varied in numerous innovative ingredients like matcha, tofu, roasted green tea, coffee, milk, etc. With a soft, chewy and jelly-like texture, warabi mochi in fern-flavor is always spilled with the abundant topping of kinako powder which significantly enhances the sweetness and goes in harmony with “kuromitsu”, the special Japanese brown sugar syrup. In Japan, no one would resist the temptation of a chilled warabi mochi as a refreshing and perfect sweet confectionary in summer!
2. Kinako Ice cream
Ice cream is such a delicacy that everybody loves. While crossing over with the Japanese ingredient kinako, it simply becomes a unique ice cream exclusive for Japan. The soybean kinako with mellow and earthy flavors compliments the sweetness of ice cream. A famous kinako confectionary “yawamochi ice” is an excellent example to illustrate the perfect combination which comes with ice cream, kinako, bean jams topped with brown sugar syrup.
3. Kinako mochi
Japanese mochi (rice cakes) can never separate from kinako. The traditional Japanese confectionary is just simple, common but extraordinarily tasty. An ordinary way is to boil the plain mochi and scoop out a plenty of kinako powder onto it. On the other hand, a grilled kinako mochi which comes with a crispy exterior and melty texture inside is also a fantastic Japanese delicacy.
4. Kinako daifuku
Daifuku is a typical Japanese dumpling made from rice and flour, filled with mild sweet red bean paste or other ingredients like ichigo (strawberry) and ice cream and comes in different colors including white, green and pale pink. As a popular Japanese mochi, daifuku is always presented in a small round shape. The name “daifuku” means a great fortune and the sweets are always savored during ceremonial occasions. Kinako is commonly used as a topping on the daifuku confectionary.
5. Kinako botamochi
The traditional Japanese sweet “botamochi” is also called “ohagi” which is made by sweet rice and mixed with some thick red bean paste and formed as a rice-ball shape. Embraced by Japanese people to use as one kind of offerings to their ancestors during ancestral worship, the sweets are often found in spring known as botamochi (“bota” means peony flower) and in autumn known as ohagi (“hagi” means Japanese bush clover). Even though there are tremendous recipes, the most traditional one is definitely botamochi topped with kinako.
6. Kinako kuzumochi
Kuzumochi is slightly different from other regular sorts of Japanese mochi. It looks like a clear jelly made from kuzuko, the starch from Japanese arrowroot plant. Kuzomochi has a texture like a mochi but less sticky. Many people love the chewy and wobbly sweet. Basically, kuzumochi is topped with kinako to enhance the flavor, together with kuromitsu (brown sugar syrup) and perhaps some ice cream. It is an excellent dessert during summer, especially when it is chilled.
7. Kinako dango
Another fascinating example of kinako ingredient used for Japanese confectionary is “dango”. It is kind of Japanese dumpling made of sweetened rice flour and often served on a skewer with three to four pieces of bite-sized dango on it. Tasting sweet and chewy in various colors, the dumplings are always served with kinako or some kuromitsu (brown sugar syrup) to compliment the sweetness. It is also added into other typical Japanese desserts like anmitsu (dessert of rice cakes, warabi mochi, sweet bean jams, cubes of agar gelatin, and molasses) and oshiruko (sweet red-bean soup). While Japanese people like to savor dango during special festivals, the sweets can also be enjoyed as a perfect afternoon tea with some matcha at any season all year around.
8. Kinako kakigori
In a torrid summer, many Japanese people would love a kakigori (sweet shaved ice) to beat the heat and cool off themselves. A plenty of syrup flavors such as matcha, fruits, and juice can be selected for the kakigori topping. In particular, kinako kakigori is one of the most popular choices. Kinako and kuromitsu (brown sugar syrup) garnish the soft and creamy shaved ice and everything is just in harmony.
9. Kinako roll cake
Roll cake is merely a simple western dessert which usually comes with regular cream and different fruits. However, adding some new elements such as Japanese kinako powder, chewy warabi jelly, rich chocolate cream and Hokkaido cream, a normal roll cake incredibly becomes a lustrous delicacy peculiar to Japan only, being a perfect example of Western and Japanese cuisines in harmony.
10. Kinako financiers
Financiers are initially one of the famous sweets imported from France. The almond cake is made of egg whites, flour and sugar, tasting light, moist with a slightly crispy exterior. But for the Japanese special financiers, kinako or matcha ingredient are added to specialize the sweet as a unique Japanese almond cake.
11. Coconut kinako pound cake
Coconut, kinako and pound cake seems unrelated and incompatible. Genius Japanese people just makes an amazing job to combine them into an excellent dessert. Kinako powder is added into the pound cake which is topped with generous amounts of organic coconut. Surprisingly, coconut flavor goes perfectly with kinako taste. The special pound cake is so popular in Japan and always out of stock in its online shop.
12. Kinako dacquoise
The traditional French baked confectionary has an innovative version in Japan, which is a dacquoise of new cream mixed with Japanese kinako and caramel sandwiched between meringue. With the crispy texture, the sweet also has some mild sweetness and little bitterness. It is undoubtedly a perfect treat with a cup of English tea or matcha green tea in afternoon.
13. Kinako Dama
In Japan, kinako dama is a well-known traditional and classic sweet loved by local people. The bite-sized and cute balls topped with sugar are filled with kinako, kuromitsu (brown sugar syrup) or macadamia nut, tasting extraordinarily delicious. No matter in the past eras or nowadays, Japanese people are still fond of the sweets.
14. Kinako castella
The castella sponge cake was imported from Europe more than a century ago and is still a popular Japanese dessert until today. The original taste of castella is made by wheat flour, egg, butter, sugar and sometimes comes with a matcha flavor. However, kinako castella is also an fantastic choice, representing one of the typical confections in Japan.
15. Kinako gokabou
Gokabou is a traditional Japanese sweet made by well-preserved production skills since the Edo period. Its ingredients include rice dumpling hardened by starch syrup and coated in kinako, tasting simple yet sweet. Since two centuries ago, it is always regarded as a favorite wagashi of Japanese people.
16. Kinako chocolate
Kinako is not only for desserts, but also goes perfectly with chocolate. The creamy brown chocolate with the nutty and toasted soybean flavor of kinako is filled with some chewy gummy of sweet mochi rice cake inside.
A perfect combination of chocolate and traditional kinako. Apart from Japan, you won’t be able to find such a palatable and exclusive snack elsewhere.
17. Kinako latte
It is effortless to have a healthy beverage, simply making use of kinako and adding it into milk and a touch of sugar. It becomes a tasty kinako latte, which is kind of a malted drink beloved by those looking for something caffeine free and a more special nutty and heavenly finish which is different from cafe latte or matcha latte. Enjoy a hot kinako latte in a cold winter morning or just chill it in the fridge for an ideal beverage to quench your thirst.
To create an authentic and delicious Japanese confection, it is never a painstaking task. Simply prepare the versatile ingredient, kinako and sprinkle it over your desserts. You would definitely lick your fingers and have every last bit of any leftover sweetened kinako until it is done. Let’s enjoy the yummy Japanese sweets complemented by miracle and healthy kinako!