just desserts: wagashi chestnut bean cake

A bean cake is something that you either love or hate at first bite. Have you ever heard the saying “it’s an acquired taste”? Whenever someone tries to warn you that you’re about to try something typically horrid… well, I don’t think you can acquire the taste of something you don’t like at first bite. It’s more like you want to taste something again (whether it’s nasty or not) because you want to be reminded of a memory that is associated with familiar tastes and smells. I’m no psychologist or Freudian expert, but it all adds up. Elementary, my dear Watson…

Wagashi is a traditional Japanese confection made with bean paste (shiroan), a common ingredient used in many Japanese sweets. These desserts were typically served with tea. Its name was derived from a careful formula that best emulates natural beauty and a word from the context of ancient Japanese literature. Wagashi is mostly made from ingredients that are plant based. It can be overly sweet, or it can be simply delicious, what I like most is the art form it takes to create such delicacies. Wagashi can also be referred to as “grandma’s” type of sweets since it was the typical dessert of the older generation. But the younger folks also have such an appreciation for it because of the techniques and time it needs to pull off this perfectly made traditional Japanese confection.

Here is a simple recipe of Wagashi that can surely transport you to the olden days. Just make sure to take extra care and time in preparing such lovely desserts because creating it is an art form in itself.

In preparing the dough you will need: Recipe Adapted from Yummy Land.

200 grams pastry flour (sifted)
80g sugar
25g butter
1 egg
1 yolk
15g shiroan (white bean paste)
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda (sifted with flour)

For the delectable filling you will need:
625g shiroan (white bean paste)
10 pieces of cooked chestnut (chopped)

Brush the top with this mixture:
1 yolk
Mirin (sweet rice wine)

Mix butter, sugar and shiroan in a big mixing bowl. Slowly add 1 beaten egg and 1 egg yolk. Cook the mixture in a double boiler in low heat until sugar is completely dissolved. Pour flour and baking soda into the batter. Fold and mix together well then cover with plastic wrap. Set aside for 30 minutes. While the dough rests, mix shiroan and chopped chestnuts. Divide the filling into 25 equal portions. Knead the dough in a heavily floured surface until it isn’t sticky anymore, then divide into 25 equal portions as well and form them into balls. Flatten the balls out big enough to put the filling in and cover fully and shape them into rounded pastries. Put pastries on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush with the egg wash and mirin mixture then bake in 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Centigrade) oven for about 15 to 18 minutes.

Bon appétit!

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25 comments

  • October 14, 2011 at 1:01 am //

    These came out so pretty I don’t think you would have any trouble at all with the ghost crackers. I’ve on tried bean paste once or twice, but my husband really enjoys it. You did a really great job on these. Hope you have a great week.
    -Gina-

    • October 14, 2011 at 12:37 pm //

      Thank you so much Gina!

  • October 14, 2011 at 3:36 am //

    i have neer heard of these cakes.. they look super cute. and sound like they taste super yumm too!

    • October 14, 2011 at 12:38 pm //

      I hope you have a chance to try them sometime, you can find them in Japanese grocery shops as well, if you do, we would love to hear what your thoughts are = )

  • October 14, 2011 at 9:39 am //

    I happen to love this taste. It’s a simple and elegant dessert!

    • October 14, 2011 at 12:39 pm //

      You do? That’s wonderful, when did you try them for the first time?

  • October 14, 2011 at 10:48 am //

    These look so pretty! My grandma used to give me these when I was a child. Yum!

    • October 14, 2011 at 12:55 pm //

      That’s wonderful to hear Gomo, glad this is something you liked, do you find it hard to find in shops in the US?

    • October 14, 2011 at 12:55 pm //

      Thank you Katie!

  • October 14, 2011 at 12:03 pm //

    I’ve never tried a bean cake but they look wonderful.

    • October 14, 2011 at 12:56 pm //

      Thank you El, so nice to see you over here, it’s been a while since I’ve been by to say “hello” = )

  • October 14, 2011 at 8:58 pm //

    Thank you for popping to my blog, thus I found your and it’s wonderful!
    Wagashi’s been on my to do list for a very long time, but I’ve aways found them too complicated. But it’s definitely time to put my hands into this :)

    • October 15, 2011 at 8:07 am //

      I hope you give it a try Silvia, once I learned more about the techniques used , they seemed more approachable. Thank you so much for commenting.

  • October 15, 2011 at 1:14 am //

    Sophisticated and beautiful! I love beans in baked goods!

    • October 15, 2011 at 8:07 am //

      Me too Nora, and thank you!

  • October 15, 2011 at 3:46 am //

    These are gorgeous! You’re so talented :)

    • October 15, 2011 at 8:07 am //

      Thank you Tina!

  • October 15, 2011 at 6:08 pm //

    Is this similar to moon cake? The process and ingredients looks nearly the same. Looks good.

  • October 16, 2011 at 6:35 am //

    What an amazing and different blog you have. These are so cute!!

    • October 17, 2011 at 10:19 am //

      Thank you Jennifer.

  • October 16, 2011 at 9:01 am //

    Very unique, I love learning about out of the ordinary sweet treats. Hoping I get to try these.

    • October 17, 2011 at 10:29 am //

      Thank you Sandra, I hope you get to give them a try, most Japanese groceries carry them = )

    • October 17, 2011 at 10:30 am //

      Thank you Lindsey!