Thursday, November 5, 2009

kuri kinton


is one of the easiest to make among Japanese confections, and Kuri Kinton (Chestnut Kinton) is probably the most traditional among the many kinds you can make. The most common version involves mixing pureed sweet potato (satsuma-imo) with whole or crumbled chestnuts-bottled-in-syrup-- a spoon-able version that often appears as part of O-sechi ryouri (New Year's cuisine arranged prettily in fancy lacquered boxes). I find that version a bit too sweet, and lacking in visual appeal. For many years I was convinced I didn't like kinton confections at all. But then I discovered the molded kuri kinton made by a number of wagashi artisans. The recipe posted here was inspired by one of my favorites, a kuri kinton made by Seigetsudou Honpo, a confectionery of Gifu prefecture.

Ingredients for 5~7 confections:
boiled or roasted chestnuts, peeled..........240 grams/8 oz
mizu ame (rice syrup) or corn syrup.......just enough to moisten the chestnuts

Set aside one or two chestnuts, and mash the rest to a pulp. Mix in rice syrup, a tiny bit at a time, until the mashed chestnuts are just moist enough to stick together when you squeeze a clump of it in your hand. If it is not sweet enough for you, add some sugar until it is. Chop the chestnuts that were set aside--finely, but not so fine that you don't notice them when you bite into the confection. Mixed the chopped chestnuts into the mashed moistened chestnuts. Divide the mixture into 5~7 portions and twist each portion in a square of plastic wrap so it gets shaped into a ball marked with wrinkles from the wrap. When each ball is firmly shaped, press gently down from the top to flatten it a little. Unwrap the confections just before serving. Delicious with hot green tea or houji-cha.


If chestnuts-bottled-in-syrup is all you can get, go ahead and use it. The chestnuts will be easier to mash, and you probably won't have to add any further sweetener.