It’s not hard to love this super easy Azuki Bar drink recipe.

Just from the product name, you can tell that Japanese confectioner’s Imuraya’s Azuki Bar is made with azuki, or sweet red beans. What the name doesn’t tell you upfront, though, is just how hard this frozen treat is.

That’s because Azuki Bar doesn’t have the creamy texture of an ice cream bar, nor is it a mass of minutely flaky ice particles like a popsicle. Instead, Azuki Bar is basically a frozen-solid block of azuki, so the three best adjectives to describe it are delicious, cold, and, especially, hard.

So we were surprised to see Imuraya itself playing against two thirds of that image by sharing a recipe on its official website for a way to use an Azuki Bar to make a delicious, hot, and liquid dessert.

The recipe for Hot Azuki Bar Milk is incredibly simple, with a very short list of ingredients and steps. All you need is one Azuki Bar, milk, a microwave, and a microwavable cup. Azuki Bars come in two sizes, and Imuraya’s official recipe says to use one of the small bars which are sold in boxes of six (individually sold Azuki Bars are larger), and to use 100 milliliters (3,4 ounces) of milk.

Step 1: Unwrap the Azuki Bar and place it in a microwave-safe container. Add the milk, then heat the mixture in the microwave for one minute and 20 seconds at 600 watts.

Step 2: Take the cup out of the microwave. The Azuki Bar should be partially melted now. Remove the bar’s wooden stick (but don’t throw it away), then put the cup back in the microwave for another 20 seconds.

Step 3: Remove the cup from the microwave, and use the wooden stick you removed in Step 2 to stir the mixture, if necessary, until the liquid is a uniform consistency.

And that’s all you have to do, unless maybe you have a snazzier non-microwaveable cup that you want to pour it into before you start drinking it.

If you’re a Japanese sweets veteran, you might expect the result to resemble shiruko, a different liquidy hot azuki dessert. However, shiruko has a very thick texture and a very sweet flavor. Hot Azuki Bar Milk, though, has a smoother, more easily drinkable consistency. The sweetness is of a less in-your-face intensity too. Hot Azuki Bar Milk’s gentle, comforting sweetness is more conducive to sipping directly from the cup as a beverage, whereas the stickier shiruko is often eaten with a spoon, making it feel almost like a soup.

That said, you might still want to have a spoon handy if you’re making yourself a cup of Hot Azuki Bar Milk. In its frozen form, Azuki Bar has whole red beans within the bar, and those don’t melt during microwaving. Instead, they sink to the bottom of the cup, but they’re too delicious to let go to waste, and you might need a spoon to scoop them up.

If you want to get extra fancy, you can add other seasonings like a pinch of salt or a dash of kinako (roasted soybean powder) to your Hot Azuki Bar Milk. Salt will draw out a little more of the azuki’s sweetness, and the kinko will enhance the beverage’s aroma. And yes, salt and kinako play nicely together, so you can add both to the same cup.

With the weather in Japan still hot and humid, we’re still happy to enjoy Azuki Bars in their frozen form right now. But a couple months from now, when the weather starts getting colder and we realize we’ve still got half a box of the small bars sitting in our freezer, we have a hunch we’ll be coming back to this recipe again and again.

Source: Imuraya
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