Happy October, dear friends! We’re officially in the double-digit months! Rolling out the red carpet for all the fun flavors that October brings is a treat with a quintessential autumn vibe. Let’s say hello to the Maple White Chocolate Kit Kat!
There’s nothing better than having autumnal chocolate in sweater weather! This Kit Kat has been sitting in my snack stash for a few months. Spotting the very last package of maple Kit Kats from Japan on the shelf at the shop, I just knew it was waiting for me to bring it home! As maple bites remind me of cold days and feeling as snug as a bug in a rug, I simply couldn’t imagine tasting a maple-filled treat in the middle of the tropics’ definition of summer. Hence, I eagerly reached for this chocolate as soon as autumn had officially arrived.
With maple-filled thoughts, I began to wonder, what are some of Japan’s traditions and delicacies that celebrate maple? I wore my metaphoric sleuthing hat to find out more about maple’s presence in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Autumn & Maple Vibes in Japan
My first stop on the maple map is a tradition that truly highlights the beauty of autumn. Momijigari (the search for red leaves) in the koyo (colorful autumn leaves) season is the autumn version of hanami in the sakura (cherry blossom) season in spring. Locals and tourists visit various locations such as gardens and parks to admire and appreciate autumnal foliage, as leaves from maple trees transform these locations into gorgeous seas of red, orange and yellow. The recommended viewing months depends on the location as the season proceeds from the north to the south – in general, it begins in September in Northern Japan and ends in December in Southern Japan.
Upon diving into Japan’s culinary world, a popular treat that I found is inspired by the maple leaf’s shape. Hailing from Hiroshima, momiji manju (fun fact: ‘momiji’ is ‘maple’ in Japanese) is a delectable maple leaf-shaped cake filled with a sweet azuki red bean paste.
An experience that comes close to eating maple leaves in Japan is, well, eating actual maple leaves. Autumn fans and adventures foodies wouldn’t want to miss tasting momiji tempura. This delicacy, which originates from an area called Minoo in Osaka, is essentially salt-preserved maple leaves that are coated in tempura batter and deep-fried. It is said to be slightly sweet yet snackable.
Hello, Kit Kat!
The maple Kit Kat was released in Japan back in April in honor of Earth Day 2021, hence the fascinating illustrations of polar bears, turtles and giraffes on the package. The nature-themed packaging and wrappers are designed by a Japanese artist named SUGI. Penguins, flamingos, camels and lush greenery make appearances in four artworks that are featured on the 12 wrappers. The flamingos and penguins are my favorites!
As maple is most commonly associated with pancakes (to me at least), I began picturing this Kit Kat in the form of pancakes while munching on the wafer fingers – white chocolate chips embedded in a stack of hot and fluffy pancakes, with a generous drizzle of maple syrup on top is what autumn dreams are made of!
These mini chocolate bars possess a flavorful blend of elements that are fabulously cohesive. The star of this treat is the Kit Kat’s chocolate coat that encases the wafer filling. Maple, which is credited to maple sugar, shines instantly with maple syrup vibes in both aroma and taste.
Although maple is the primary flavor, white chocolate is celebrated too. Right after being greeted by maple’s warm presence, white chocolate’s undertones arose with its signature creaminess and milky-ish note. Even though both elements are known for being sweet separately in theory, maple and white chocolate surprisingly do not overpower each other when they’re united in this confection. Additionally, white chocolate is a great choice to pair with maple as its flavor is not as intense as milk and dark chocolates, hence allowing maple’s flavor to shine.
The chocolate exterior is a standout, but the filling is also an integral part of the experience. The wafer stack is not as sweet as the chocolate exterior, therefore balancing the overall sweetness while being a pleasant addition to complement the maple-white chocolate duo. To my taste buds, the wafer biscuits seem to be similar to the ones that are used in regular Kit Kats. The cream part of the filling that sits in-between the wafers is subtle, and I believe it is a maple-based cream.
All in all, I absolutely enjoyed this chocolate. It’s autumn in a bite for chocoholics from the beginning to the end!