What could make life sweeter than expanding your dessert repertoire? Many know and love Japanese cuisine, and their regional desserts are no different. We've rounded up the most iconic dessert recipes for you to try, including easy tips for making them turn out great. From trendy matcha green tea ice cream and delectable Japanese cheesecake, to fancier bites like syrupy dango dumplings and coffee jelly, you're sure to find a recipe here to share with your guests.
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Japanese cheesecake, called soufflé cheesecake in Japan (and elsewhere Japanese cotton cake, or jiggly cake), is a light and bouncy confection to delight cheesecake lovers. It shares similar ingredients with classic American cheesecake, except it omits the crust, and calls for stiffly whipping the egg whites before incorporating them in the batter. The resulting dreamy dessert combines the tangy taste and creaminess of cheesecake, with a fluffy, cloud-like texture.
02 of 15
Japanese Coffee Jelly
Japanese coffee jelly (or kohii zerii) is a fun and unique coffee creation popular in Japan since the 1960s, when it was inspired by the popularity of British and American gelatin desserts. It's a jiggly and refreshing treat made with black coffee and gelatin, and a great way to cool off (and caffienate) on warmer days. Try it with whipped cream on top as a cooling finish to the meal.
03 of 15
Dorayaki (Japanese Sweet-Filled Pancakes)
In Japan, dorayaki is a much-loved treat for kids and adults alike. It's made of two smallish, American-style pancakes, sandwiched together with a sweet-meets-savory red bean paste, and eaten hot or cold. While the usual dorayaki pancake batter includes honey, our version is a little less sweet, which means it may be difficult to stop eating at just one.
04 of 15
Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream
If you've ever wound up at a Japanese restaurant with a bowl of green tea ice cream, you may have wondered how you could enjoy the sweet and refreshing treat at home. We've got you covered with our essential ice cream maker recipe that uses matcha powder (available online and at Asian grocery shops), and a handful of pantry staples to churn up a delightful frozen dessert.Continue to 5 of 15 below.
05 of 15
Japanese Christmas Cake
Japanese Christmas cake is nothing like the dense, heavy fruitcakes of British origin. In fact, this beloved Japanese holiday treat is closer to an American strawberry shortcake, with layers of pillowy sponge cake, fresh cut strawberries, and fluffy whipped cream. Originally inspired by Western desserts, it is sold on nearly every corner during holiday time in Japan, and is a symbol of prosperity. It's a lighter way to end any festive meal, from Yuletide dinners to birthday celebrations.
06 of 15
Often served in summer, mizu yokan is a sweet and refreshing, chilled Japanese red bean jelly. It is usually shaped into a smooth, rectangular block and served as a traditional tea-time treat (or wagashi) with matcha green tea. While several varieties of yokan exist, mizu yokan is one of the most popular and simple way to celebrate the natural flavors of red beans, which play a starring role in many Japanese desserts.
07 of 15
Mitarashi Kushi Dango
Dango are soft and chewy rice flour dumplings that are a popular wagashi in Japan. These mitarishi kushi dango drizzled in a simple, sweet syrup will remind you of honey glazed donuts or Greek honey balls, except that you steam them first before briefly pan-frying. Served on a skewer, they make a great hand-held dessert for parties, or even a special breakfast-on-the-go.
08 of 15
Isobeyaki (Japanese Sweet Rice Cake)
Isobeyaki is a popular way to enjoy Japanese mochi or rice cake. This sweet and savory snack is especially popular on Japanese New Year, and is eaten throughout the winter months. In Japanese, "isobe" means rocky seashore (where seaweed is sourced), and "yaki" means to bake. Whip up a batch in just 5 minutes, by grilling or pan-frying prepared (fresh or frozen) mochi, with a little sugar and soy sauce. Then wrap the toasted, seasoned cakes in dried seaweed (ajinori) for serving.Continue to 9 of 15 below.
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Purin (Japanese Custard Pudding)
Somewhat firmer than the gooey French crème brûlée, Japanese purin is the ultimate in elegant Japanese comfort food desserts. Made with simple ingredients you likely stock in your pantry already, it is a silky, rich, smooth, and creamy pudding that cooks in a bain-marie (warm water bath) in your oven, and is topped with caramel sauce.
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Chi Chi Dango Mochi
Sweet, oh-so-chewy, and pink, chi chi dango is a favorite children's treat often enjoyed at holiday parties or whenever families gather. A variation on the ubiquitous mochi (rice cake) dessert, chi chi dango is sweetened with sugar and coconut milk (the name literally means "milk dumpling"), and then baked in the oven. It is typically colored pink, but you could use any color of food coloring to make it suit your theme.
11 of 15
Anmitsu is a nostalgic cold fruit salad enjoyed during the warmer months in Japan. Much like an American Jell-O salad, it combines canned or fresh fruits with gelatin — in this case, kanten jelly, which is made from agar and naturally vegan — and a sweet red bean paste (anko). It is commonly topped with ice cream, and a dark sugar syrup, to make it even more dessert-like.
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Manju (Steamed Cake With Sweet Red Bean Filling)
Manju is a favorite Japanese confectionery (or wagashi) that goes wonderfully well with a piping hot mug of green tea. You need just 5 ingredients to make classic manju, a round, steamed cake filled with a sweet red bean paste (anko). While these cute little bundles may look like chewy mochi, our manju cakes use all-purpose flour, for a more cake-like consistency.Continue to 13 of 15 below.
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Sakura Mochi (Cherry Blossom Sweet Rice Cakes)
Plump, pink sakura mochi are sweet little glutinous rice cakes filled with sweet red bean paste and typically wrapped in a salty, edible pickled cherry leaf. In Japan, they are enjoyed in March during Hinamatsuri (Japanese Girls' Day) to celebrate the blooming of the cherry blossom trees in spring. They are also thought to bring good luck and good health to all the girls in the family.
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Mochi Ice Cream
A Japanese-American woman named Frances Hashimoto is credited with inventing mochi ice cream after her husband conceived an idea of wrapping ice cream in a rice cake. Experts in construction and microbiology were brought in to perfect mochi ice cream as we know it today. Classic ice cream flavors such as vanilla, chocolate and strawberry are often used, but you'll also find more complex flavors like Kona coffee, green tea, plum wine, and red bean.
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Japanese Shu Cream
Shu cream is a Japanese dessert inspired by the famous French "choux cream." Although these decadent puffs are French in origin, they have become a Japanese culinary staple that kids of many generations have grown up eating. They are available everywhere from high-end patisseries to vending machines.