Autumn comes to Family Mart with the simultaneous of a huge new dessert lineup made with Japanese sweet potatoes.

As we move from summer into autumn, it’s time for people across Japan to not only start transitioning into their new seasonal wardrobe, but also their new seasonal snack lineup. Among Japan’s favorite fall flavors is sweet potato, and while some fans indulge by going to potato patches and digging the veggies themselves up, we instead opted to raid Japanese convenience store Family Mart, which just kicked off its own Oimohori (“Sweet Potato Digging”) fair by simultaneously releasing 17 different kinds of sweet potato-flavored sweets!

That’s actually too many even for us to eat in one sitting, but did manage to make room in our stomach for the five most alluring snacks, which we gathered for a mass-munchie taste test. We’ll admit to being a little apprehensive, since sweet potato, as an elegant, mature flavor, requires a certain subtlety beyond just loading up the dessert with sugar and cream, and we couldn’t help but wonder if a humble convenience store was up to the task. Still for the sake of you, dear readers, we found the courage to eat all these.

First up: the Sweet Potato Tart (210 yen [US$1.90]).

Though it doesn’t make it into the snack’s official English name, the tart is made with beniharuka, a type of Japanese sweet potato grown in Kumamoto Prefecture on Japan’s southwest island of Kyushu, which is mashed into a paste to make the tart’s filling.

The tart’s dough is tender, moist and rich, and the sweet potato filling both delicious and enticingly fragrant, making this a true treat for multiple senses.

Next up, the Sweet Potato Crepe (298 yen).

This one also uses beniharuka paste, and cutting the crepe in half to look at the cross section showed it nestled between folds of the crepe dough next to layers of whipped cream. Not too sweet, and with an invitingly pillowy texture, we have no complaints here either.

For our third course (which, like the first two courses, was also “dessert”), we switched things up with the Japanese Sweet Potato Parfait (298 yen), which uses anno imo, a different type of Japanese sweet potato.

There’s a pretty impressive variety of ingredients here, starting with, of course, sweet potato mousse, sweet potato cream, and bits of sweet potato. You also get kuromitsu (Japanese-style brown sugar molasses), whipped cream, shiratama mochi dumplings, jiggly warabimochi, and tsubuan sweet red beans from Hokkaido.

Despite all the players in this sweets symphony, though, everything is superbly balanced, giving each flavor space to shine while still being first and foremost about the sweet potato notes.

Next up, something much simpler in appearance: the Sweet Potato Steamed Cake (138 yen).

This one looks quite a bit like the mushipan/”steamed breads” that Japanese bakeries sell, soft and spongy baked goods with generally subdued flavors. However, this one is flavorful enough to be worthy of the “cake” in its name, thanks to having anno imo sweet bean paste kneaded into the dough prior to steaming.

It’s also incredibly soft, and might have made a great pillow if we’d had enough willpower not to devour it entirely immediately after taking our first taste.

And last, we come to the Daigaku Imo Stick Donuts (298 yen).

Daigaku imo translates to “university potato,” and refers to sweet potatoes with a soy sauce-based glaze and black sesame. First gaining popularity with Tokyo college students in the 1920s (because it was delicious, filling, and cheap), daigaku imo remains a retro darling among Japanese foodies, and even got its own Starbucks Japan Frappuccino flavor last year.

Maybe because the Daigaku Imo Stick Donuts are meant to taste like another dessert, they have the least powerful sweet potato notes out of the Family Mart sweet potato snacks we sampled for this taste test. They’re still mighty tasty though, and probably the most substantially filling of the bunch.

As with many Japanese convenience store snacks, these five sweet potato treats, plus the dozen that we didn’t have room for, are only going to be offered at Family Mart for a limited time, but we’re looking forward to seeing how many more we can eat before winter rolls around.

Photos ©SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
[ Read in Japanese ]