Happy New Year 2016!
Kuri Kinton 栗金飩 is one of the items of osechi-ryōri, traditional Japanese New Year/oshougatsu foods. It is a sweetened and mashed Japanese sweet potato with sweet chestnuts. The characters for kinton literally mean ‘group of gold’, so with the golden color of this sweet, it represents a wish for wealth and financial success. However, it is more interpreted as meaning for a life without suffering from lack of food in the New Year. Many osechi food has rich soy sauce taste, so this sweet taste is a palate refresher. Also, the bright, yellow color brightens up the table. Not only is kuri kinton enjoyed at the New Year table, but also enjoyed as an everyday sweet snack. This recipe has a twist to the mashed/paste form traditionally served. Nontraditional ingredients have been added to make it more like petite cakes in flower shape.
Kuri Kinton • 栗きんとん • Sweet Potato and Chestnut Cakes
Recipe by: Fae’s Twist & Tango (fae-magazine.com), inspired by Chef T. Saito
• 400 g sweet potato
• 60 g/ 6 chestnuts in syrup -plus- 50 ml syrup from bottled chestnuts
• smidgen ground saffron dissolved in 1 Tbsp hot water**
• 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
• 2 Tbsp water
• 1 large egg yolk
• 30 ml heavy whipping cream
• strawberry jam or any red jam for accent
** Traditionally, gardenia fruit/kuchinashi is used for yellow hue. It is sold in dry form in Japan. It’s been used for natural coloring for a long time. It has a pigment that is similar to saffron and imparts safe, natural color. If gardenia fruit is used, it is added at the time sweet potato is being boiled.
◊ Peel the sweet potato and cut it into slices about 2 cm thick. Soak in cold water for 15 minutes and drain.
◊ Cut the chestnuts into small pieces, size of large peas.
◊ Place the sweet potato slices in a non-stick saucepan and barely cover with water. When it comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook for about 10 minutes or until soft and drain. Saucepan will be used again.
◊ Mash the cooked sweet potato while still hot with a wooden spoon through a sieve/strainer to make it smooth.
◊ In the same saucepan, add sugar and 2 Tbsp water and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat. Add the dissolved saffron and the chestnut syrup and mix. Add mashed sweet potato and mix. Add the egg yolk and mix vigorously for a minute to combine well. Turn on the heat to medium to medium-low heat and continue to mix vigorously for 5 minutes, so the egg yolk will not coagulate.
◊ Add the cream and continue mixing together for an additional 3 minutes or until the moisture evaporates and paste separates from the saucepan and is thick and sticks to the wooden spoon. Remove from heat. Add the chestnut pieces and gently mix in.
◊ Empty the mixture onto a large dish. Spread and flatten into a 20cm x 20cm square . Cut into 16 segments. Take a segment and place it in the center of a sheet of approximately 30cm x 30cm plastic wrap. Bring the edges together and twist to create a ‘purse’ shape. While holding the twist, with index finger, press a dent in the center of the ball (as seen in the photo). Open the plastic and gently take out the cake and place it on a plate.
◊ Using two chopsticks, place a tiny drop of jam in the center of each cake. Decorate them in an attractive serving bowl/plate to serve.
~ どうぞめしあがれ • Douzo Meshiagare ~