I am a very lucky girl. I have so many wonderful friends.
Today's post is a treat that came to me unexpectedly. My lovely friend, Chris, sent these over to me via a mutual friend with whom I was having dinner, even though these are precious, limited-quantity treats flown all the way from Japan.
Straight from Japan, these bite-size pieces of pseudo-chocolate are a new member of the 'Chiroru Choco' family. 'Chiroru' is actually Tirol, which is a region in the Alps. The company website states that these chocolates were named after Tirol to resemble (in spirit) the gorgeous nature, vast blue skies, and clean air that is present there. How a piece of chocolate is supposed to incorporate all that is a mystery to me, but we'll let that one slide... And since I much prefer the 'Chiroru' spelling and sound versus the Tirol (what the heck is Tirol Chocolate - that's not my dear treat!!), I'll insist on calling them Chiroru.
Turns out Chiroru Choco has quite a long history. The company has been around since 1962, but it wasn't until 1979 that they began their signature bite-size chocolates. I remember them most during their 1988 designs, since I used to long for the Almond Chiroru, but distinctly remember the black TIROL packages too. For some reason, my mother was not a big fan of my cheap-sweet-cravings, preferring to fill me up on boutique cakes rather than convenience store treats, and she blacklisted the Chiroru. But they were so small, so cute, and so... forbidden, I naturally lusted after them. It was always an uncle or a cousin who slipped a few cubes into my hand, much to the chagrin of my mother.
These Kinako (soy powder) Chiroru that I got from Chris are limited-edition Chiroru, available only during the winter months. Right now, they are extra special because in true limited-edition spirit, Kinako Chiroru came out in Eastern Japan on Oct. 20th and Western Japan has to wait until mid-December to see them in stores! So, yes, I, sitting in the sleepy suburbs in the Bay Area, got to eat something from Japan that many Japanese have not even seen yet! I love you, Chris!
Chocolate-connoisseurs will probably feel insulted by these treats being sold as 'chocolates', because they really are pseudo-chocolates. I looked at the ingredient list and cocoa was one of the last ingredients (which means it's present in one of the lowest proportions). But, boy, were these delicious! Full of that delicate nutty, soy-powder flavor and toasted scent, these treats melted with grace and buttery goodness with each bite.
The best part? The gummy mochi in the middle! The texture of the gummy mochi (which was really not at all mochi in ingredient) helped to spread the flavor of the kinako 'chocolate' all around my mouth. Chewing the gummy mochi produced more saliva that melted the chocolate further as well.
Having some Chiroru (esp. such a limited-edition version!) was such an unexpected delight, it totally made my day! Thank you, Chris!