When you're hungering for a cookie in Japan, you might head for the closest convenience store and pick up something like Fujiya's "Country Ma'am" chocolate chip cookies or classics like Glico's "Bisco" butter cookies, but when you want to offer some very special cookies as a gift, many people go online to shop at more premium brands or visit the food section of a department store.
Some of our readers may have heard of Yoku Moku cookies. Their curled cigarette butter cookies, for example, are widely appreciated and known to make great gifts. However, we've recently discovered a brand of Japanese cookies which we'd like to recommend as an alternative if you're looking for something truly distinctive presented in beautiful tins that you'll want to keep.
Patisserie Gin no Mori Cookies
Headquartered in Ena, Gifu Prefecture, which is about a 90-minute drive from Nagoya, 恵那 銀の森 Ena Gin no Mori, which means "Silver Forest," operates numerous shops and restaurants in the local Gifu area, but it is perhaps most known for its Patisserie, with its main shop in Tokyo's ritzy Ginza shopping district and a thriving online sales business.
Patisserie Gin no Mori also makes pound cakes, jams and jellies, but their mainstay is cookies. And what amazing cookies they make. We bought two tins to show you just how special they are.
Le petit bois
Their standard and most widely available tin is called "Le petit bois," which means "the little forest" in French.
Gin no Mori tins feature their brand name in elegant bold typeface, on a pattern inspired by woodland flora and fauna. For "Le petit bois," the scheme is an appealing combination of medium turquoise and midnight blue with silver lettering.
As you'll discover when you visit their website, the concept for Patisserie Gin no Mori is two squirrel chefs, Chest and Nut whose job it is to search for the "blessings of the forest" in the form of choice ingredients and fashion them into delicious cookies presented like treasure chests.
When you open the tin, one thing that will strike you is how so many cookies of different shapes and sizes are packed neatly and tightly in the box just like pieces of a puzzle. Another special characteristic of Patisseries Gin no Mori cookies is that they are made with acorn powder which imparts a very subtle hint of bitterness to the cookies, which balances perfectly with the other ingredients for each cookie to create a unique flavor profile you can't find in any other cookies available.
Each tin comes with an explanation on each type of cookie inside. For "Le petit bois," the cookies are Gland, a butter cookie featuring acorn and hazelnut, Pale and Pale Raisin (correct French spelling is "palet", designating a flat disc shape) cookies flavored with cheese, salt and dried raisins, Noix Noir featuring walnut and Japanese kokuto brown sugar, Croquem Noix (non-existing French word, perhaps inspired by "croquant" for a crunchy cookie), crunchy nuts with a caramelized coating, Épeautre (French for spelt) made with spelt wheat, Meringue framboise made with raspberries, Amer (French for "bitter") made with acorn powder, Aubépine (French for hawthorn), featuring tangy hawthorn berries, Pavot (French for poppy) made with poppy seeds, sasa (Japanese word 笹 for bamboo grass), featuring クマザサ Kumazasa (Sasa veitchii), sansho (Japanese word 山椒 for Japanese pepper), Croquignole (French for a kind of sweet biscotti) flavored with acorn powder, and Cafe gland flavored with roasted coffee beans.
You can see the complete list of their standard cookies in English on their official website here.
For example, this is their sasa cookie, with tiny pieces of bamboo grass visible on the surface. Sasa has been traditionally used in Japan in herb tea preparations and it lends a subtle, gentle flavor to this cookie.
Special Spring edition tin
The other box we bought was a special edition tin of cookies just for spring, and contained within a silver tin.
The list of cookies includes flavors such as thyme and orange, lavender, saffron, olive, rosemary, pistachio, and Japanese flavors like yomogi (Japanese mugwort) and sansho (Japanese pepper), which you can see below. A whole sansho leaf is featured on the cookie for a unique and memorable appearance. The subtle numbing effect of sansho is barely perceptible leaving room for its fragrant overtones in this tasty cookie.
Read more stories from grape Japan.
- External Link