These hand pies are premium quality–perfect for gifting (or hoarding at home)

If you want dessert on a budget, one of the best places to go in Japan is sweets chain Chateraise. Their products are really reasonable in price, but they don’t skimp on quality. For example, our foodie reporters couldn’t tell the difference between strawberry shortcakes from a luxury hotel and Chateraise. That’s how good their sweets are!

Which is why our Japanese-language reporter Masanuki Sunakoma was stopping in one for some snacks one day, where learned of the existence of their Premium Apple Pies. They were super delicious-looking apple-stuffed hand pies with a beautiful brown, crispy-looking pastry dough. The sign in front of them said they were from “Fresh-baked Bakery Yatsudoki.

Yatsudoki is a Chateraise sweets sub-brand named after both the Yatsugatake mountain range in Nagano, where they’re made, and the three o’clock tea time (called “yatsudoki“) popularly observed during the Edo period. Their premium sweets are available at select Chateraise branches and at Yatsudoki sweets shops, so Masanuki considered himself lucky to have found them at the Chateraise he’d visited. Naturally, he immediately bought some. They cost 399 yen (US$2.68) each.

These apple pies had a completely different aura from the kind you’d find at a convenience store. Everything about their appearance, from the color, sheen, and shape, was almost perfect. They looked extremely well-made.

When Masanuki researched them, he learned why. The dough is apparently made at a Chateraise factory in Holland, using fragrant European flour and cultured butter from France. After the dough is mixed with salt and the fresh spring water of the Southern Alps mountain range in Nagano, it’s kneaded and stretched until it becomes the perfect pie dough.

The caramelized apples inside are prepared by hotels owned by Chateraise Group, where hotel chefs and their staff peel sauté apples slowly in butter. That’s probably about as premium as you can get.

Of course, when you buy the pies to take home, they don’t come hot out of the oven, but you can recreate that fresh-baked experience by following the instructions they provide. Simply wrap them loosely in aluminum foil and bake them lightly in a toaster oven. Masanuki had his in for about a minute and a half.

The buttery smell wafting off it was absolutely mouthwatering.

The pastry was super crispy, and the inside was packed with apple slices caramelized so carefully they maintained their shape and texture. The combination of delicious, softened apple slices with the crispy dough was so good Masanuki couldn’t get enough, and he really appreciated the texture and aroma of the fresh-baked pastry. This was definitely a good idea.

If you want to try the deliciousness that is Chateraise’s specialty Yatsudoki Premium Apple Pie, you don’t have to go to the trouble of searching on the website for a Chateraise shop that sells them; you can also stay home and order them on Chateraise’s online shop. These really have a luxurious quality to them, so while they make an excellent tea-time addition or dessert for you, they’d also make a great gift to bring when visiting someone. Definitely give one a try if you have the chance!

And while you’re shopping at Chateraise, you should also try their cheesecake; in a blind taste test, seven out of eight of our foodie reporters thought it was an expensive brand, so it’s really good!

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