Vegan and Gluten Free Wagashi Making Class

Clockwise: Sweet potato steamed cupcake with coconut milk frosting, hojicha ice-cream with sesame tuille, chakin shibori: white bean outside and red bean inside, and iwashimizu yokan

Wagashi is the name for traditional Japanese sweets which usually are paired with tea.  They are usually made with beans, mochi, and fruits.  They are also known for their delicate design which is equally as important as their taste.

In this class all of the sweets that we made were completely gluten free and vegan (no eggs, milk, etc.). There was also no use of any artificial dyes.  When considering these guidelines it is actually very interesting to think of ways to make desserts without using these common and seemingly necessary ingredients.

Ingredients such as beet powder were used for food coloring, tapioca flour and garbanzo bean flour replaced wheat flour, and there was a log of use of coconut milk, oil, and sugar.  I thought that the use of beet powder was a good idea since it has little to know taste and it is a natural way to get different shades of pink coloring for your food.  The tapioca flour and bean flours also worked well and tasted very good.  I wasn’t familiar with using them before this class so I would like to explore that a little more.  I am also not too sure how good or bad they are for you so I need to look into that too.  As for the use of coconuts, I wasn’t too fond of that.  Coconuts are a tropical fruit and living in a non-tropical area I don’t think it is a great idea to consume so much of them or coconut products. Furthermore, everything begins to taste like coconut and I don’t think that wagashi really matches coconut because coconuts are not really a familiar product in Japan (traditionally speaking).  But I really walked away with a lot of new ideas. I am planning to do my own version of the Youkan recipe soon!

Iwashimizu Youkan: Made from kanten, azuki bean paste, and agave nectar


Steamed Cupcake: Made with sweet potatoes, coconut milk icing, and beet powder for the pink colored icing


Making sesame tuille

Making white bean wagashi: Azuki center with white bean outside, red beet powder used for coloring


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