Wagashi are sweet Japanese confections made from bean paste. Similar to marzipan, the paste can be sculpted into gorgeous little shapes inspired by the season. Making wagashi is not hard, but can be time consuming and requires a bit of practice to master the techniques. As you might expect from a traditional Japanese discipline, you can spend your whole life making wagashi and never reach perfection.
The final paste is called "Nerikiri" and is made by combining the sweet been paste called "Shiro-an" with rice paste called "Gyuhi."
Makes about 3 dozen small wagashi.
Make the Shiro-An
Shiro-an is the base of the wagashi.
- 950 grams dried white beans like lima or navy beans
- About 300 grams white sugar, or 1/2 the weight of the sieved bean paste
Weigh the paste you have now and measure out sugar equal to 1/2 of the weight of the paste. Add the sugar and a couple of tablespoons of water in a large saucepan. Add half the bean paste and heat this mixture over medium heat. Add the rest of the bean paste.
Spread this out into a pan and let it cool. This is your Shiro-an.
Make the Nerikiri
- 30 grams rice flour
- 45 grams water
- 15 grams sugar
- 600 grams of the shiro-an
Stir this in with 600 grams of the shiro-an and heat over medium heat. You should end up with a tacky dough that can be shaped with your fingers.
Shape your Wagashi
For this tulip-inspired wagashi, roll together an undyed white ball and a pink ball and flatten them into a disk. Press some white nerikiri around the edges. Wrap this all around a small white ball and fold the edges upward. Press some yellow nerikiri through a sieve and place it in the center using chopsticks.
For this lotus wagashi, roll some green dyed nerikiri into a ball. Pat it into black sesame seeds and press a hole into the center with your pinky. Press some pink nerikiri through a sieve and place it into the hole.
For this cherry blossom wagashi, roll pink nerikiri into a ball. Using a square chopstick, use the edge to create ridges along the side. Press some yellow nerikiri through a sieve and place it on top.
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