Happy New Year and Happy January, dear friends! It’s officially 2021!
January’s back-to-work season has commenced with showers and comfy winter vibes here in the Lion City. Rather than our usual tropical outdoor-egg-frying heat under the sizzling sun, the scene outside features billions (or what feels like it) of beady raindrops that can fill buckets! With grey skies and breezes that are forecasted to linger until mid-January, I’m enjoying all the best bits that the season brings before our radiant buddy arrives after its break. Keeping as warm as toast with my all-time favorite giant mug of hot tea, I needed to add a munchie to my teatime menu to complete the afternoon!
In one of my recent trips to the shops to replenish my stash of munchies, I was greeted to a stocked aisle of butter biscuits from Japan in the ‘snacks’ section. Being a fan of snacks from the Land of the Rising Sun, my interest was piqued. Out of the mini selection of biscuits, the one that ultimately won my heart is the apple butter biscuits. I’ve had regular autumnal apple cookies before, but an apple touch to butter biscuits from Japan? That’s fascinating! These biscuits landed in my basket in a heartbeat. They’ll be a great fit for the snack stash’s rainy day picks!
Apple-laden sweets are common finds in the beautiful world of Japanese snacks. In fact, the Aomori Prefecture is best known for all things ‘apple’. Located in the Tohoku region, Aomori is Japan’s largest apple-producing prefecture. To apple lovers, one word sums Japan’s apple capital: heaven. Apple-themed snacks in Japan tend to be inspired by Aomori’s harvest. Although there aren’t any clues (in English and through illustrations) that point to Aomori when it comes to these biscuits, it’ll be fun to taste a Japanese spin on featuring apples in biscuits.
Taking a closer look after my hand dived into the packet and my fingers grabbed a piece, I noticed that these biscuits echo the appearance of Danish butter biscuits. They remind me of pretzel-looking Danish biscuits that sit in round old-school, blue-hued tins. These biscuits are lightly coated in sugar too – like the ones that Danes (and pretty much most people around the world) love!
As I sank my teeth into the biscuit for the first bite, I was surprised! The butter biscuit I was holding is different to others that I’m used to: rather than a crisp treat with a crunch, it’s actually softer. The closest description I can think of which fits the experience is it’s somewhere between an American-style cookie and a European-style biscuit!
Of course, the taste test comes down to, well, taste. Apple’s gentle taste comes through in every bite – and it lingers in a pleasant aftertaste. Bits of encrusted sugar crystals add a dash of sweetness to the biscuits without being overpowering. When it comes down to the ‘butter’ in butter biscuits, these ones are well-balanced, as butter isn’t overpowering and it showcases apple’s touch.
While munching thoughtfully, I realized that apple’s soul is present through echoes of its signature flavor. I couldn’t detect anything that points to the fruit from a textural perspective. This made me wonder: where does that apple taste come from? Wearing my sleuthing beanie, I searched for clues to answer that mini mystery.
It turns out that the mysterious ingredient that contributes to the taste of apples is actually apple juice powder. This is a first for me, because I don’t recall chomping on biscuits with apple juice in them before! Now to come to think of it, the biscuits taste like a little ode to apple juice as an aftertaste! When I stepped into the world of Japanese apple snacks to learn a bit more about them, I discovered that apple-themed Kit Kats from Japan (the apple pie and Shinshu apple ones) include powdered apple juice too!
While I was solving the apple mystery, I landed on another discovery. Through perusing the packet after eating the biscuits, an ingredient that I didn’t expect to see in a million years was unveiled. Cinnamon powder is a listed ingredient! Just when I thought I’ve said “see ya” to cinnamon for the season after devouring Christmas goodies, it turns out that my acquaintance (or ‘frenemy’ is more fitting) in the spice realm is having a blast in the snack stash and isn’t ready to leave! I guess cinnamon must have taken its cue from the weather outside, since I only chomp on cinnamon-laden treats in autumnal and wintery climates! I mean, cinnamon stuff marks the holidays and I wouldn’t dream of missing out on seasonal goodies – regardless of whether I’m only taking a single bite or polishing my plate clean!
Interestingly, the biscuits’ spice level didn’t activate the cinnamon radar in my cinnamon-sensitive taste buds. Apple stands out more than cinnamon. It is possible that my taste buds have adjusted to cinnamon’s presence after tasting spiced biscuits and cakes! This is undoubtedly a plus for anyone who’s exactly like me when it comes to sentiments towards the spice, because we won’t dart away from these biscuits! In my eyes, cinnamon is a guest star (or perhaps an extra) to apple’s star quality flavor in these butter biscuits.
All in all, I quite like these biscuits. Now, I can officially say I’ve tasted apple biscuits this winter/rainy season!