Sugar And Fire

One of my favorite chocolate treats in the world is the KitKat. For me, KitKat bars and Reece’s peanut butter cups are equally ranked, with Snickers candy bars following closely behind, and most other cheap chocolate candies are inferior to these.

But I’m an American, and only in recent years did the American KitKat have a flavor other than the basic chocolate flavor. Though harder to find, sometimes appearing
only for holidays, you can buy white chocolate, dark chocolate, and mint KitKat bars.

If you haven’t heard about Japan’s KitKat collection, you’re in for a real treat.

Japan’s KitKat bars can be found in flavors ranging from matcha green tea, regular tea, sake, sakura (cherry blossom), wasabi, strawberry, purple sweet potato, and so many more. Some flavors are region-specific, and other flavors are seasonal.

One seasonal flavor for this year was the sugar cookie KitKat. Like any sugar cookie, it’s supposed to be baked. Well, I’m not going to heat up an entire oven for one tiny, little, fun-size candy bar. I don’t have access to a toaster oven, either, which would be equally useful for this purpose.

Since they only ever show the top part of the KitKat getting browned, I decided to do it creme brûlée-style, or as close as I could get to that. I took out one of my candle lighters, then opened one of the KitKats and set it on top of its wrapper.

“Ooh, can I have one?” asked my friend’s 16-year-old daughter. I gave in and let her have the first one I made, which toasted quite easily because the flame from the lighter was shooting out at over an inch long and I could cover the width of the candy. It seemed like it took about a minute for the chocolate to go from melting to toasting, but eventually it turned a golden brown like roasting a marshmallow. Coincidentally enough, she said it tasted like a s’more.

I toasted mine next, and I had to turn the flame size up from the bare minimum to mid-range before I had a flame equal to what I had for the last KitKat. My KitKat seemed to take a little longer to toast, but eventually I managed to roast it. I lifted it up by the wrapper and saw that the chocolate from the KitKat had pooled around the edges along the bottom. Not wanting to burn my tongue, I took my time and I took a picture before I even took a bite.

The first thing I could taste was the white chocolate base, but it’s definitely sweeter than regular white chocolate. Doing anything to heat the top part of the KitKat makes it taste like comfort food, because gastronomy and things. Yes, there’s a long scientific explanation, but the short version is that toasting the chocolate makes it taste like s’mores or fresh-baked cookies, and it triggers a part of the brain that thinks of times when eating such things was a comfort. If you eat the sugar cookie KitKat straight out of the package, you’re missing out on something that would delight your taste buds.

If setting candy on fire doesn’t interest you, you and I probably won’t get along, because I can’t understand anyone who wouldn’t want to indulge their pyromanic side on occasion. But that’s okay, because there’s plenty of other KitKat flavors for you to try, such as the cranberry almond one I also had, which has a dark chocolate base. Sadly I consumed all of those in a fit of not giving any hoots, but since chocolate causes a mood-lifting biochemical to be released in the body, I don’t even feel guilty or sad about eating what was left in the bag. The cranberry almond KitKat bars tasted like gourmet chocolate, like springing for the $3 chocolate bar instead of the $1 Hershey’s bar.

Why am I eating Christmastime KitKat bars in March? This was the first time I saw them at my local Asian grocers, so my guess is that it either took this long to get them shipped to the Syracuse area or they were acquired at a discounted price because it was after the holiday season. I won’t complain, because chocolate doesn’t just expire after a short amount of time. Changes in heat or humidity can alter the taste and texture of chocolate, however. My KitKats were in excellent condition, as the chocolate was smooth and glossy as it’s supposed to be.

If you want to try any of the Japanese KitKat flavors, you can go on Amazon and order any of the ones that interest you. If you happen to have an Asian grocery store near you, drop in sometime and see if they have any of the KitKats you’re looking for. If you happen to live in Japan already, I’m quite jealous of you, but I’m letting that jealousy fuel me so that I might be in Japan as well someday.


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