It’s like Santa came early as we taste test the cake made by Starbucks and its Hiroshima partner.

It’s not Christmas in Japan without a Christmas cake, and being filled with yuletide spirit, our Japanese-language reporter K. Masami decided to get a head-start on eating the seasonal sweet. When her sweet tooth is tingling, Masami can usually satisfy it with the treats found inside the baked goods case at her local Starbucks Japan branch, but all they have is slices of cake, and Masami wants a whole one, to really create a festive Christmas mood (and ensure she’ll have enough desserts to last her for a few days).

Luckily, this year, for the first time ever, Starbucks Japan is offering complete Christmas cakes. The catch is that they’re exclusively available by online order, but that wasn’t about to stop Masami from getting her hands on one, and a few days after placing her order for Starbuck’s Holiday Cheesecake, it arrived at her home.

The cake ships frozen and needs six to eight hours in the fridge to properly thaw. That can be an excruciatingly long wait for a serious sweet fan, but thankfully Masami’s cake arrived in the morning, so she put it in the refrigerator right away so that it would be ready to eat by the time of her daily 3 p.m. tea break/sweets ritual.

▼ Waiting for Christmas cake is almost as hard as waiting for Christmas.

After spending the morning and early afternoon working at half-efficiency (since 50 percent of her mental capacity was taken up by her brain repeatedly asking “Is the cake ready yet? Is the cake ready yet?”), Masami could finally pull the Starbucks cake out of the refrigerator and dig in.

Christmas cakes in Japan generally have a red-and-white color scheme, and Starbucks Holiday Cheesecake is no exception. The top of the cake is paved with a glistening layer of bright red strawberries, ringed by and sitting atop a thick layer of whipped cream. Underneath that is a layer of cheesecake with more berries, and at the bottom is a cookie base.

Size-wise, it measures 12 centimeters (4.7 inches) in diameter, and as she held the cake, Masami could tell this is no airy, lightweight cheesecake. It’s got a substantial heft, and when she set it down on her kitchen scale, its weight came back as 700 grams (24.7 ounces).

With Starbucks in-store slices of cake usually being about 110 grams, the Holiday Cheesecake should be enough for about six servings. But since this was Masami’s Christmas gift to herself, she could cut herself as large a slice as she wanted, so she went for a full 1/4 of the cake, revealing a mouthwatering cross-section of fruit, cream, and cake.

It took exactly one bit for Masami to be enveloped in blissful Christmas cheer. The cheesecake is rich but has a clean finish, with no oiliness. The berries have just the right mix of sweetness and subtle tart notes, and the cookie base is delightfully crunchy with just the right amount of saltiness. Overall, it’s an immensely satisfying cake from Starbucks, and also their creative partner who actually produces the cakes, Hiroshima-based Takaki Bakery.

At 4,320 yen (US$38) this isn’t a cheap treat, but it’s not prohibitively expensive, by Japanese standards, for a high-quality and visually appealing cake like this. Plus, to ease the economic sting, the cake comes with a coupon for a sample-size pack of Starbucks Christmas Blend coffee beans.

As mentioned above, the only way to get the Starbucks Holiday Cheesecake is through online orders, which can be placed here. While they’re currently sold out, the order page does have a button you can click to request a notification if/when they become available again (it’s the button that says 再入荷お知らせ), so don’t give up hope for a Christmas miracle just yet.

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 ]