Everybody loves a good dessert — but not everybody thinks of dessert in the same way. Forget chocolates and pies when you head over to Japan, and say hello to sweet cakes, wafers, and sugary sweets. In Japanese desserts you will often find two key ingredients: red bean paste and mochi. Of course, there are a few other sweet treats that find their way to popularity in a country known for its innovation and beauty. So what are the most popular Japanese desserts? Let's take a look!
You can't talk about Japanese desserts and not bring up mochi. This Japanese rice cake is available in every color of the rainbow, and in just about every size too. While it's used in more complex desserts throughout the country (some of which you'll see later on in this list), basic mochi is a popular treat in and of itself. You might have even seen it taking over in America, as an available topping at Pinkberry, and filled with ice cream at Trader Joe's.
Dango looks similiar to mochi, but is actually made with a type of sweet cake called mochiko. Three to four danjo are often served on a skewer in Japan, covered with a flavored paste. The variety of pastes varies greatly, ranging from chestnut to soy sauce. This small dessert is a favorite in the country for its delicious pairing of sweet and salty flavors.
Konpeito is a Japanese sugar candy that is often shaped like little stars. They come in a variety of colors, however, they tend to be made flavorless. Also called "crystal candies", these sweets are all about the aesthetic.
Credit: Cookie M/Flickr
Monaka is sort of like a Japanese cookie. Made with a wafer outside, these yummy desserts are filled with azuki bean jam, providing a pleasantly crisp bite that sinks into a jelly goodness. The inside filling can also be made with chestnuts, sesame seeds, or rice cakes.
Credit: Moira Clunie/Flickr
Yokan is a jellied dessert that is usually cut into clean cube-shaped pieces. The flavors and designs can vary greatly, but the jelly itself is always made from red bean paste, sugar, and agar. This dessert is often served cold, and is a popular treat during hot summers.
Flavored Ice Creams
Credit: Robyn Lee/Flickr
The ice cream scene in Japan is off the charts — literally. With flavors ranging from squid ink to miso ramen, there really is hardly a food you can think of that hasn't been turned into a Japanese frozen treat. Many of these flavors are made for those with an adventurous palette, including garlic, cactus, and shark fin.
If you have a sweet tooth, then wasanbon is the perfect Japanese dessert for you. A fine-grained sugar that is made into small and colorful edible designs, some of the pieces are so pretty you won't want to eat them!
Hanabiramochi literally translates to "flower petal mochi", and though it's as traditional as it gets when it comes to Japanese desserts, it is still one of the most popular treats to eat, especially during the new year. This specially made mochi dessert has a thin outer covering that is filled with a sweet bean paste, usually that of mung beans.
Soy Milk Soft Serve
Extremely similar to soft serve in America, Japan also offers soy milk soft serve throughout the country. Like their expansive ice cream flavors, soy milk soft serve comes in innovative flavors of its own, including black sesame sweet tofu amongst dozens of others.
Credit: mama hiro/Flickr
Sakuramochi is made from a sweet pink mochi outside and red bean paste inside, and it always comes covered in an edible sakura leaf, hence its name. A popular dessert in Japan, this delicious treat is often made at home thanks to its simple ingredients and recipe.
Which one would you like to try? Let us know in the comments!