Okay, so let's take a semi-break from chocolate and fly on over to Hokkaido.
The Hanabatake Bokujo's (literally flower field ranch) nama caramel (soft caramel) are the latest craze in Hokkaido (well, actually all over Japan). Whenever this company is featured at various department stores in Japan, they sell out in a snap.
These candies are made by hand, even wrapped by hand, and are really soft but they do not stick to your teeth when you bite into them.
Friday, before meeting up with our tour, Satoshi and I had arrived in Sapporo early. Since it was too early for lunch, I "convinced" Satoshi that we should have some dessert.
The place was pretty busy but we got a table at the Hanabatake Bokujo Cafe rather quickly and ordered their caramel set. This came with a slice of caramel rolled cake, caramel souffle (like a whipped cheesecake), a piece of caramel, a piece of strawberry caramel, caramel sauce to spread on two crackers or to put into your coffee, a piece of caramel coated with white chocolate, and your choice of drink. 1470 yen (about US$14.70). (Actually we were lucky because the set originally only consists of the rolled cake or souffle not both. The only reason we were able to get both in our set was due to a special for the Sapporo Ice Festival.)
I ordered one set with coffee and another coffee for Satoshi. Satoshi said he didn't want any dessert but ate his half very willingly. The cake was quite dry, the souffle was really light. I liked the strawberry flavored caramel as there were bits of strawberry in it. We both agreed that putting the caramel sauce into your coffee was a no-no and that spreading it onto the cracker was really delicious.
I can see why the Japanese are crazy for these, they are good, not too buttery or too sweet, I'm glad we were able to try them. As we left the cafe, the line to get in was around the corner and also on the 2nd floor (where they have a little shop), another line had massively formed to buy the caramels (we were both glad we weren't in either of the lines) (see the picture above, the guy wearing the cowboy hat is a store clerk who is indicating the end of the line. These people were waiting to be able to go into the shop for the 11:00 delivery of caramels).
p.s. Today is a national holiday here (National Foundation Day) so Satoshi has the day off.