Akita: Creating cute sweets using city’s local fermented ingredients

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Momone Sasaki holds her trophy and certificate after winning the “Fermented and cute confectionary contest.”

YOKOTE, Akita — Momone Sasaki, 17, a second-year high school student at Yokote Seiryogakuin, was declared the winner of the “Fermented and cute confectionary contest” for her iburigakko (smoked daikon pickle) florentine on Nov. 13. Her sweets are set to go on sale next fiscal year.

The contest, which was held in Yokote, Akita Prefecture, was open to all high school students in the prefecture.

The competition was organized as a way to promote Yokote as “a city of fermented foods,” and contestants used local ingredients to make cute confectionaries for the second year in a row. One hundred forty-four unique sweets, using such ingredients as miso, iburigakko and amazake, a sweet drink made of fermented rice, were entered into the contest. The five finalists described their sweets, which included an amazake marshmallow and iburigakko manju sweet buns, to the judges and submitted them for a taste test.

Sasaki has won the first prize two years in a row. The iburigakko were roasted, then, together with almonds, were mixed with a caramel sauce. The mixture was then placed on top of cookie dough before being baked in an oven. The complementary aromas of iburigakko and cultured butter, the crunchy texture and the rich flavor made the sweet very distinct.

“It was pretty difficult to find cultured butter, but I was able to perfect it with help from my parents,” Sasaki said. “I’m so honored that [my recipe] was chosen out of all the other amazing sweets. I hope a lot of people get to try it.”