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If you’re interested in Japanese foods, you may be aware that red bean paste, or anko in Japanese, features widely in traditional Japanese sweets. From soft daifuku rice cakes filled with the sweet paste to anmitsu jelly served with pieces of fruit or the dorayaki cakes that Doraemon loves so much, red bean paste is indispensable in making Japanese confections. But now, it seems that giving the traditional paste a bit of a western twist by combining it with a certain ingredient has become all the rage, as seen in a recent post on Japanese trend and information compilation site Naver Matome. Apparently, an increasing number of people seem to be recommending products and recipes online that mix red bean paste with … cream cheese!

Here are some of the azuki and cream cheese combinations that were featured in the Naver Matome article. And from what we can see, it seems like the two ingredients actually mix unexpectedly well.

●The “What the Heck is this Daifuku (Najakora Daifuku)”

Twitter user @aim_o shared the picture of this unique daifuku rice cake sold by sweets maker Okashi no Hidaka. In addition to red bean paste and cream cheese, the daifuku contains strawberry and chestnut, and @aim_o comments in the tweet that the cream cheese was a surprisingly good match with the other ingredients in the cake.

●Red Bean Paste Cream Cheese Bagel

This tasty looking creation that seems easy to make and convenient to eat was shared on Instagram by user dronediscoidol. He says in his post that although he was skeptical about the combination of red bean paste and cream cheese, it was amazingly good when he actually tried it.

●Cream Cheese and Red Bean Paste on Toast (Recipe)

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The recipe for this snack-type toast was shared on Rakuten Recipe by user Purinaladomo. All you have to do is toast the bread, spread some butter and cream cheese on it and add the red bean paste on top. Only a small amount of butter is needed to bring out the flavor of the cheese and azuki.

●Red Bean Paste and Cream Cheese Toast (Recipe)

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This is another similar toast creation posted on Rakuten Recipe by user Genki Nontan. Again, it’s quite easy to make — just spread margarine and red bean paste on toast, place pieces of cream cheese on top, them toast for about five minutes.

●Salty Milky Toast with Red Bean Paste, Cream Cheese and Walnuts (Recipe)

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In this recipe posted by Mikkiann on the Cookpad recipe sharing site, we have another toast, this time with a few more additional ingredients. The recipe calls for spreading unsalted butter and red bean paste on the bread followed by small pieces of cream cheese, powdered skim milk, crushed walnuts and a sprinkling of salt. Toast the combination, add cinnamon according to your preference and you have your creamy salty and sweet snack.

Cream Cheese and Red Bean Paste Sandwich (Recipe)

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This recipe shared on Cookpad by user Erisansan keeps things very simple — just sandwich some cream cheese and red bean paste between toasted bread. The sandwich may be easy to make, but Erisansan says that the slightly sour flavor of the cream cheese and the sweetness of the red bean paste make an absolutely delightful combination.

Creamy Red Bean Paste Dip (Recipe)

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This recipe shared by Shimo9756 on Rakuten Recipe is a little different and is a dip that you can spread on crackers or bread.  You heat the cream cheese in a microwave for 5-10 seconds to soften it a little, then you mix it together with red bean paste and milk. It looks simple enough to make, and Shimo9756 says the kids seem to love the dip.

●Sweet Egg Roll with Red Bean Paste and Cream Cheese (Recipe)

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This recipe shared on Rakuten Recipe by user Pou looks like it could be an elegant dessert. To make the egg roll, you place pieces of cream cheese and Red Bean Paste on an egg roll wrapper cut in half, roll up the wrapper tightly and paste it shut with edible glue, then fry it in about one centimeter (0.4 in) of oil in a frying pan and sprinkle lightly with salt. Enjoy the salty and sweet taste while hot!

●Red Bean Paste and Cream Cheese Pie (Recipe)

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This recipe posted on Cookpad by user Colourlife uses frozen pie sheets for some home-baked goodness. The recipe calls for defrosting the pie sheets at room temperature for about 15 minutes, cutting them into four equal pieces, placing the cream cheese and red bean paste on the cut sheets and folding them in half after brushing the sides with egg yolk, then pressing down the edges with a spoon or knife to firmly close the pie. You then cut slits in the top of the pie, brush egg yolk again onto the top and then bake in an oven preheated to about 360°F until it turns golden brown. The pie looks like it could make a sweet breakfast as well as a snack.

●”Kinton- style” Fresh Cheese and Chestnut (Recipe)

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And last on our list is this recipe posted by Mayumi Kumagai on Rakuten Reicpe, a treat based on the traditional kuri kin ton dessert. Kuri Kinton is typically made from candied chestnut and mashed sweet potato, but here, the chestnut is surrounded with red bean paste and strained cream cheese instead, and the end result looks positively delectable. In this recipe, you add rum and salt to the red bean paste and cover the candied chestnut with the paste while leaving just one tip of the chestnut visible. The cream cheese should be strained with a relatively coarse strainer to achieve a somewhat “mashed” state. You then place the cheese and then the paste-covered chestnut on a piece of cling wrap to gently squeeze the ingredients into shape. We’re not sure how difficult this is to make, but if you’re able to do it properly, it should certainly look nice and fancy.

So, we hope you enjoyed Naver Matome’s selection of unique treats that combine azuki and cream cheese. They actually look quite savory, and we’re tempted to try making one of the simpler recipes ourselves. We guess that while red bean paste is made to be sweet, the sweetness is very mild and gentle, so it could very likely have the potential to go well with various flavors. Well, we certainly don’t mind being introduced to new, tasty combination of ingredients, and we’ll be sure to let you know if we come across something that captures the attention of our taste buds again!

Source: Naver Matome (Japanese)