I'm in Canada and I've been asked to make a bunch of desserts for a dinner, but they have to be Japanese, or at least have a Japanese taste/feel/twist to them. I've love as many suggestions/recipes as possible. So far I've been trying some green tea delices, and dessert spring rolls, but I'd like some other ideas.
My favorite is "Strawberries in Snow" or it's called Awayuki Kan in Japanese. It's a gelatin based dessert that doesn't melt at room temperature and is a treat for the eyes and the tongue.
I use agar agar sticks (the white ones, NOT the red!) and break one of them into pieces. Wash it well under running water. Wring it out well, then soak in two and a half cups of water for half an hour or so. Then boil it until the agar agar melts completely, then strain through a cheesecloth or fine sieve. Return it to the pan with a couple of cups of sugar and boil until it has reduced to one and a quarter cups of water.
Beat two egg whites until stiff, then slowly add the agar agar mixture and a tablespoon of lemon juice and some finely grated zest. Beat until stiff. Rinse a square pan (or you can spray with Pam or similar if you wish. Pour about a third of the agar agar mixture into the pan, then place washed and hulled strawberries in a way that you can cut the finished dish into squares or rectangles that have half a strawberry on each long side. Now bury the strawberries under the rest of the agar agar mix.
You can chill it in the refrigerator until set, or agar agar will set at room temperature. After you cut it into serving size pieces, top each one with a half of a large unhulled strawberry cut side down so it looks as if half of it is buried.
Ilike to serve it at room service because it's more of a surprise -- people expect "Jell-O" to be cold -- and I think it's more flavorful. You can also change the flavor, but the lemon goes well with the strawberries.
You can get both sheet and powdered agar agar, but I'm not sure of the equivalencies. Or you can make it with two tablespoons of unflavored gelatin in a cup of boiling water with a cup of sugar instead of the agar agar/sugar mixture but it will have to be chilled in the refrigerator to set and served cold. And gelatin isn't traditional.
Mochi is a sweet rice paste that tastes like a sweet dough and has a consistency reminiscent of marzipan. Among its uses is mochi ice cream, which is a little ball of ice cream completely encased in mochi, sort of an ice cream dumpling. You might go on the Toronto board and see if you can buy mochi ice cream in Toronto. Anybody Stateside who wants to try them, Trader Joe's carries them. Don't know about Canada.
How about something savory but sweet?
Japanese sweet potato. ( imagine twice baked but with cream and sugar )
anything goma related always hits a soft spot for me.
and lastly a new years specialty. ohagi. ( mochi rice balls covered with a blend of edamame and sugar combo. Mortor and pestle the soy and sugar till you get a paste and encompass the whole thing with it. DIVINE! )
Hope it turns out well.
How about tofu cheesecake or black seasame tofu pudding, Japanese style parfait with yuzu syrup and shiratama dango and yuzu or grapefruit mitsuname, green tea cupcake with soy vanilla icing dusted with kinako powder, sake or ginger flavored creme brulee, green tea tiramisu, chestnut mont blanc cake, etc.
I really love red bean ice cream... really anything with red bean paste always pleases.
There's a Japanese Bakery here in Boston that does a phenomenal Adzuki cream donut- basically a yeast donut rolled in powdered sugar and filled with a barely sweetened whipped cream and adzuki paste. Boston hounds all rave about it.