Written by Chiara Mischke
Loved By Everyone In Japan! Ice Cream Wrapped In Mochi - Yukimi Daifuku
Yukimi Daifuku is a combination of ice cream and soft rice cake. The original vanilla version has been around for a long time. Over the years many different versions of the popular snack have been released. Let us show you why it's so popular!
Daifuku (rice cake with red bean paste filling) is a traditional Japanese confectionery. However, especially in summer, you might prefer something cold over a heavy snack with a rich filling.
Yukimi Daifuku (snow-viewing rice cake) combines ice cream and mochi (rice cake) and turns it into a delicious summer version of the traditional snack.
Yukimi Daifuku - A Story of Marshmallow Turning into Mochi
The famous food company Lotte created Yukimi Daifuku in early 1980. The first version was called Wataboshi (snow-capped or snow hat). It consisted of vanilla ice cream covered in marshmallow. After a short while, the marshmallow was replaced by a mochi (rice cake) skin as rice cake is more popular in Japan than marshmallows.
It was renamed "Yukimi Daifuku" which is a play on the words tsukimi (moon-viewing) daifuku. Tsukimi daifuku is eaten at the traditional moon-viewing events in September, which are reminiscent of the old autumn harvest festivals.
Lotte has spent many years to refine the mochi skin so that doesn't harden when frozen. They have obviously succeeded as the mochi isn't even hard when you eat it fresh out of the freezer. It is always perfectly soft and stretchy at any temperature.
Nowadays, Yukimi Daifuku also comes in many sizes, versions, and flavors. Let us introduce five examples to you today.
1. Vanilla Yukimi Daifuku - The Original
The original version of Yukimi Daifuku with a vanilla ice cream filling is the most popular. The delicate sweetness of the vanilla ice cream goes perfectly with the slightly sweetened mochi skin. You can savor both flavors together without one overpowering the other.
Recently, the original Yukimi Daifuku was released in a bigger version. The "fuku" part of daifuku consists of blown up letters. Fuku can be translated to "blown up" which refers to the bigger version. However, the writing of the product's name is not the only thing that got different on this version. Have you spotted the cute, chubby bunny on the package? He probably ate too many of the big daifuku.
Yukimi Daifuku usually comes in a set of two and a plastic version of the traditional wagashi fork to pick them out of the package without getting your hands dirty.
Price: about 150 yen
2. Mini Yukimi Daifuku - Great for Sharing
The Mini Yukimi Daifuku usually come in the signature vanilla flavor but you might find different varieties such as green tea or chocolate.
As you can see, they are about half the size of the original Yukimi Daifuku. They come in a pack of nine divided into three individual packages which makes them perfect for sharing. The small size also means that you can eat them in one bite, fully savoring the perfect mochi to ice cream ratio.
A cute detail of the mini version is that the daifuku bunny comes with a baby bunny on the package to visually point out it's the small version of the original. The bunnies are on most Yukimi Daifuku and they even change their activities and appearance all the time. The bunnies pull on the mochi, wave, hand you the daifuku fork or slide down the ice cream.
In Japan, many people use the small Yukimi Daifuku to create their own custom-made daifuku. So I decided to turn mine into takoyaki. I arranged them on a plate adding chocolate sauce, matcha green tea powder, and some white chocolate shavings. I also added a toothpick to make them look even more like the famous soul food from Osaka.
Price: about 300 yen/package
3. Seasonal Limited Yukimi Daifuku
Depending on the season, you will often find different limited edition Yukimi Daifuku modeled after popular sweets. There have been flavors like strawberry and chocolate, cookies and cream, cherry blossom, azuki (red bean) and many other varieties.
The picture above shows Kinako mochi version of Yukimi Daifuku. Kinako is roasted soybean powder, a very popular ingredient in Japanese sweets. It is sweet, yet slightly bitter and has a unique flavor. In this variation, the Yukimi Daifuku isn't rolled in the kinako as traditional mochi would be. Instead, only the ice cream was flavored with the roasted soy flour which gives it a unique, subtle taste.
Price: about 170 yen
4. Yukimi Daifuku Inspired by Traditional Rice Cakes
The newest addition to the line up is Yukimi Daifuku inspired by wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets). This version is supposed to be the premium version of the traditional Yukimi Daifuku. Mitarashi dango (mochi cakes on a skewer with sweetened soy sauce) was the first installment of this new kind.
The recent version is fried sweet potato with caramel sauce. The ice cream has 5% of premium sweet potato blended into it, surrounding a soft caramel core. You can vividly taste the sweet potato covered by the strong caramel flavor of the core.
It will be interesting to see what other traditional Japanese sweets will get an ice cream makeover with this version.
Price: about 200 yen
5. Noko Namachoko - A Distant Family Member
Even though Noko Namachoko (rich creamy chocolate) is not an official member of the Yukimi Daifuku family, it seems to be inspired by it. Created by the same company, it has the same design to it as Yukimi Daifuku. However, the look is the only thing these two have in common. Instead of rice cake, a layer of creamy chocolate is used to cover the ice cream core. Each piece is covered in powdered cocoa to add the final touch.
The version shown in the picture above is the matcha version. The creamy chocolate covers a matcha flavored ice cream and the center is filled with a matcha cream. Every layer is very smooth and creamy and it melts in your mouth as you bite into it. You don't have the different textures the Yukimi Daifuku is so famous for but it is a delicious and unique ice cream in its own right.
Yukimi Daifuku - The Perfect Treat on a Hot Day
If you love traditional Japanese sweets but want something refreshing, Yukimi Daifuku is the perfect treat for you. The mixture of creamy ice cream and the unique texture of rice cake is something you can only enjoy in Japan.
So, how about giving it a try the next time you are in Japan on a hot day?