Even those of us who weren’t legendary swords in a previous life will fall in love with these easy-to-make sweet treats!

If there’s one thing you should know about our Japanese-language reporter Udonko, it’s that she’s a super fan of anime/video game franchise Touken Ranbu, where historical Japanese swords are transformed into swoon-worthy young men to help fight the forces of evil. Originally a browser based card game, the franchise has since branched out into films, anime series and even stage plays and musicals. The most recent reiteration — Touken Ranbu Hanamaru ~ Setsugestuka — is a film that was released for a limited three week period at the end of May, and was hugely popular on social media.

As a devout follower of all things Touken Ranbu, it goes without saying that Udonko went to see the movie. But while the movie was filled to the brim with blade boys a-plenty, there was something else that caught Udonko’s attention — something that the characters were eating.


The characters were all chomping down on monaka, a traditional Japanese sweet made from wafer-like layers with a red bean paste sandwiched in the middle. While monaka comes in many shapes, this particular sweet treat (which in the game is called a ‘hanamaru monaka‘) is shaped like a flower. This monaka looks overflowing with delicious red bean paste, with a white bean dango dumpling in the middle.

After browsing through a couple of recipes, Udonko found it was actually surprisingly simple to make monaka’s wafer layers, and came up with her own original monaka recipe, based on what she found online.

▼ And the best news is these are the only ingredients you’ll need!

Udonko’s Touken Ranbu Hanamaru Monaka (makes one serving)

For the wafer layer

3 tablespoons of glutinous rice flour
1 tablespoon of cornstarch
1.5 tablespoon of water
Vegetable oil (as needed)

For the filling

1.5 tablespoons of glutinous rice flour
1 tablespoon of water
Red bean paste (as much as you want)

Step 1: First things first, make the wafer layers. Add the flour, cornstarch, and water to a bowl and mix.

Step 2: Knead the mixture until it becomes soft and doughy, like an earlobe. Add more water if needed.

Step 3:  Grease a cherry blossom shaped cake mold. Using the mold, shape the dough mixture into a flower. Try to keep the dough as flat as possible.

▼ As a side note, Udonko’s first attempt involved making her own flower mold using aluminium foil and…

▼ She ended up making something that looked like naan bread.

▼ You can find flower shaped molds like this at most 100 yen stores.

Step 4: Gently place some aluminum foil or parchment paper on top to prevent the mixture from rising too much, and bake in a preheated oven at 230℃ for 11 minutes.

Be careful not to press the aluminum foil down too hard against the dough though, or you’ll end up with bits of foil stuck to your monaka, which isn’t ideal.

Step 5: Remove from the mold and ta-da! You have your wafer layers.

Step 6: Next, make the dango dumpling. Put the glutinous rice flour and water in a bowl and knead well until the dumplings are as soft as an earlobe, because one earlobe reference in her recipe just isn’t enough for Udonko.

Step 7: Roll the dough into a ball about two centimeters (0.8 inches) in diameter. Place it in boiling water, and once it floats to the surface you’ve got yourself a dango dumpling.

Step 8: Add as much red bean paste filling to the bottom water layer as desired.

Step 9: Add the dango on top and you’re done!

The finished product looks a little pale compared to the hanamaru monaka from Touken Ranbu, but considering this was Udonko’s first attempt at making the traditional Japanese dessert, she was pretty impressed with what she’d created.

As it was freshly made, the monaka was still a little warm, and Udonko took her first bite, ready to savour the product of her hard work. She was immediately met with an intense mixture of different textures — the crunchy, crispy wafer layer, combined with the refreshingly chewy dango dumpling and the gentle sweetness of the red bean paste was simply divine.

Udonko had been planning to eat her creation slowly, savouring each bite, but before she’d even noticed the monaka had completely disappeared, and she immediately lamented only making one.

Udonko had originally made the monaka because it was featured in her favourite franchise, but she’s sure that even people who have never heard of Touken Ranbu would fall in love with this sweet treat! She tried to make her monaka to be as close to the monaka she’d seen in the Touken Ranbu movie, but she’s sure that it could work with a whole bunch of different fillings, too, and she plans to experiment with different flavours in the future.

For any fans of Touken Ranbu (or anyone who just likes making traditional Japanese sweets), this is a simple recipe that wields impressive results.

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