Saturday, August 14, 2021

Japan's Phantom Sweets

Phantom sweets. It’s a thing in Iwakuni City, in the beautiful Setouchi region of Japan. Long popular for it’s rich blend of historical sites and castles, it’s gaining fame as home to one of the world’s only phantom confectionaries known as Iwaman, long beloved for its nearly-impossible sweet treat that absolutely must be purchased in-store. Absolutely no mail orders, ever.

Why is this tiny bean cake so popular? Well, first off, the recipe is a secret. What is known is that it’s made by wrapping bean paste in a crispy crust and baked to perfection, a beautiful blend of sweet and savory reflecting an infusion of Japanese and Western influences. What is the secret to its scrumptious taste? Many believe it’s a special local butter that’s been used since the company was founded along with a tradition of never using preservatives or coloring agents. But, truly, only the owners know for sure, dating back to its launch in 1971.

Since then, they are incredibly in high demand so it is necessary to make a reservation even before heading to the store so your cakes or special gift boxes are available when you arrive. Most days, even locals cannot acquire them so book in advance as there are no mail orders, nor any online shopping possibilities.

Photo credit: Setouchi DMO


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