As August drew to a close we received a box full of Japanese candy from those lovely people at Marimo Marshmallow this is the premium pack and contains 9 fairly reasonably sized pieces of candy and candy-related paraphernalia.
But, unlike the other boxes of Japanese candy we've received, this one has a bit of a twist!
With the exception of one or two pieces, we are looking at a selection of DIY candy that encourages you to play with your food! (Make sure you wash your hands first though!)
So, throwing caution to the wind we're diving straight in – although as native Brits, our grip of the Japanese language is limited to Konichiwa! Kawaii! we're in debt to the web links which we'll share in this review that helped point us in the right direction! (Especially the youtube videos!)
So here we go! Arigatou!
Tanoshi Ramen Yasan - Grape flavoured, DIY Ramen noodle kit. (bit.ly/marimo5832)
This was the first of the "more complicated" DIY candy makes we attempted. There is a lot to it (if you follow the link above you'll see more details from the Marimo website including a how to video). Having watched this, and some of the other videos (they're kinda addictive), we decided to give it a go.
First up, the instructions on the back aren't that bad; there's lots of words, but for the non-Japanese speaking people out there (like us) it actually makes a fair amount of sense... although watching the videos helped fill us with confidence!
First up, you make the little pasty things. (I know there's a proper name for these, but it's completely slipped my mind!)… actually, that's wrong. First up you separate the plastic mould, the bowl and the mixing tray. This is essentially made by taking the white candy block and breaking a bit off, making a circle (there is a template) and putting it onto the pasty mould, then filling it with the little balls and closing the mould and pressing it carefully together. Two of these later and we move on to make two eggs and a couple of swirly things.
We then made the yolk for the eggs/ egg noodles by mixing one of the packs of powder with a little water in the mixing tray and filling the squeezing bag (little hole in the corner) with the resultant mix. We added water and the other powder pack to make the "soup" and squeezed noodles out of the bag into the soup.
But enough of the process; what was it like?
Firstly – this was actually a lot of fun! There is something quite enjoyable about it all. It took quite a while (I'm sure it kept us busy a good 10-15 minutes or so) and there were a few chuckles as we went along.
The problem I had, is the problem I always have with working with clay, plasticine and candy. After a little bit of working, it gets a bit too sticky; although leaving it for a few minutes to cool down helped a lot.
Tasting – first up the pasty things were a big success! I don't know what those little balls we filled the pasty shape with were, but they were great! Kinda sweet, light, and – I don't know – like something angels would eat or something!
The eggs and swirly things were mostly the white candy 'dough' - which tasted a little like bubble gum; the noodles though – I know the flavour listed is grape, but they tasted a little lemony I thought. All in all though, it was a lot of fun we really enjoyed making; probably enjoyed it more than the eating!
Watapachi – Melon Soda flavoured, cotton candy.
This was actually the first piece we opened; to be honest, we were a little daunted by the rather complex instructions on some of the candy, and didn't want to dive into the Kirby gum (which we'll get onto later); although that's mostly because Neil is a Kirby fan and didn't feel right tearing into the packet.
Once the packet was open, without looking at what was inside, the first thing we experienced was the great scent of melon – which is good, because that's the flavour it is! Inside is a good rectangle of cotton candy (or candy floss for us Brits). Green candy floss.
For a start, I'm sure this is the first time I've seen candy floss in a packet like this! But once I got over my surprise I got straight onto the sampling. The flavour is great! It has a good melon flavour; and like a lot of melon flavoured things, is a little bit sour. But that's not all – this is melon soda flavour; and the soda comes from popping candy hidden in the candy floss. (Our poor Shortie dog; other than bubblewrap, the non-living thing that he hates most in the world is when we eat popping candy – fortunately he was dozing while we were sampling and wasn't disturbed at all!) We loved this and thought it was really cool – and was surprised nobody's brought something out like this in England!
Kracie Himitsu no Neruneru
This one gave us a few head scratching moments; but one quick view of the how to video explained it all. There are two little trays and two packets per tray with a little packet of topping "fizzy" candy.
First we added the powder in the packs marked one into each of the trays; added a little water and stirred. These two looked a little odd. One was rather blue, the other a yellowish green. It had a texture of … I'm not sure, paste? Adding the second powder to each of the pots and it went from a translucent paste to a thick gum-like thing; one yellow, one pinky-purple (eventually tuning a nice shade of pink!)
We then added the topping (splitting it between the two) and sampled!
First impressions; both of the candies felt a bit like "angel delight" with fizzy candy on top. The one we think was pineapple flavour, the other (we think) was strawberry or something similar.
We loved it! Once we had worked out what we needed to do (the pictures, although clear once you knew what to do, did cause a little head scratching before) the whole process was quite quick. It was essentially just mixing powders and water and then eating. No complicated shaping or forming or moulding etc.
We loved it! (I know I've already said that!) This was fun, but quick fun.
Star Kirby mix and match gum.
This is fun gum! (And yes, Neil managed to get into the Kirby packet without destroying it). You have a bunch of little, different flavoured, gum balls ( yoghurt, soda, orange, apple and a mystery flavour!) and it's up to you how you chew them. Do you get a bunch of the same, or do you throw a mix in and see what happens?
We started by having one of each flavour – there are some really nice (and different) flavours in there. The apple is particularly nice; when you usually get an apple flavour, we'll be talking sharp-slightly-sour green apple. This tastes much more of a crisp and sweet red apple.
Of the various items in the box, this was the simplest of the "mix things to make something" - but that's not a bad thing. The flavour was great, and like Jelly Belly Jelly Beans, there's a good amount of fun to be had experimenting with the various flavour combinations. ( Although I've not managed to work out how Marimo made tea with milk yet)
We've managed to get a few bubbles out of this (Neil always tempts fate with his facial hair … but there's an element of risk in most activities). A lot of fun!
Ice Bar Soft Candy – Candy Popsicles!
This was our first, proper, "make" of the kit; it wasn't too involved so was the perfect thing to break us in gently to the DIY theme. This candy popsicle kit contains four tiny ice-lolly stick, two soda candies and two strawberry candies, powdered sugar and clear syrup.
Simply, you push the sticks into the candies and carefully shape them to make them look a little like ice-lollies; or, if you're us, like slightly squished blocks on a stick. You then squeeze the syrup into one of the trays and pour the powdered sugar into the other; then you dip the candy into the syrup before doing your best to coat it with the powdered sugar. (I don't think we were that successful, but it was fun trying!
Finally, you eat it!
This reminds us a little of the dip dabs we had as kids; except, with a little bit more work – and, just like with them, once the candy was gone we just were straight in with fingers to get up as much of the syrup and sugar as we could; no soggy paper packets here though – just mucky fingers. A lot of fun!
Mi no Naru Shake – Jelly bead shake!
I often seem to bring up "bubble tea" on these reviews (just coincidence), but there's something definitely familiar with the way this DIY candy looks.
This time we tried just following the picture instructions. Unfortunately we did something wrong, so the grape (purple) bubble-bead things just didn't take. They kinda dissolved into the water-base thing rather than forming balls.
(I think the thing we did wrong was use water from the mix rather than fresh water; the second set of balls – the green ones – worked a lot better).
Finally we mixed up the "shake" mix; which was pink and didn't take too long to make. Now there was a picture of a fridge on the package, but we didn't want to wait; plus, having messed up the purple balls, we just had a big pink foamy thing with green balls in. We thought, "why wait? Let's just go for it" - and we did.
Now, baring in mind we mucked up. It wasn't bad. It was fizzy and grape-ish (which could have been from what would have been the grape beads). Sucking it up in the straw mostly felt like sucking a fizzy shake). It was nice, not quite like the bubble tea we were expecting. But it was nice. Maybe next time we'll try and get better looking results.
Niginigi Osushi Yasan Gummy – DIY Sushi Gummy Kit
These we should have started with; they were quite simple to put together. Simply we took the jelly "fish and fruit bits" and put them on the sticky "rice" jelly bits, then ate them.
The fishy/fruity bits tasted nice; the rice bits tasted a little creamy. It was good combination; but a little like most gummy sweets – although it was a bit fun (the sort of thing you'd imagine younger kids would really enjoy doing).
Very simple, but fun and in keeping with the theme.
Korokoro Animals – Rolling Animal Candy!
( bit.ly/marimo4429 )
This was actually the last candy we attempted; mostly because it looked like it could be either the most complex, or the most demanding of our artistic endeavours. However, we were a little wrong. We were expecting blocks of candy to shape and form, but, instead we had a tray with three packs of powder and a stick!
Never mind; after checking out the video (because this is one of the ones we scratched our head about a bit) we gave it a go. Some water in two of the trays, and then the mix. One a pink … possibly strawberry... flavour, the other a brown, chocolate-like flavour.
Once we had our gummy mix, we separated it into a number of balls. Five pink, three brown. Putting four of the balls (one at a time) on the stick and dipping them in water followed by the white powder (which is kinda sweet flour like) and then dipping back in the water to fix it gave us four white balls.
We then used the remaining pink and brown balls to make ears, noses, eyes and so on. (There are moulds for most of the animal part shapes).
But how was it? There was an element of fun mixing and making – as with all of these; but there was an undeniable amount of stickiness to the pink and brown balls which made it a little tricky to shape all the pieces into the right animal bits. (You might be able to tell this from the photo of our attempts!) That didn't stop us trying though.
We did enjoy the making; but how about the eating? First up, it was a lot of work for four little animals; so you might expect we took our time and savoured every bit and waited a while …. NOPE! We went straight in and tasted and munched.
We'd made, essentially, jelly animals. There was a gummy nature to them; a soft gummy nature to them. They were nice, good and fun – although … I'm not sure you could tell that we were attempting to make a panda, pig, elephant and cat!
Decoration 'layer' Cake – DIY Microwave cake mix!
Cake! But how does five or six little packets turn into the marvellous desert delight you'll see below?
Well, like all of these DIY candy's, some assembly is required; First you remove the strawberry mould and water measure from the plastic pack. Then you make the cake. The cake is a layer cake, so there're two little cakes to make. The first two packets are opened and emptied into each of the cake moulds. Three measures of water are added and the whole lot is mixed gently until the two reach a batter-level of consistency.
Once that's happened, it's to the microwave for about a minute before removing the cake from the mould and leaving it on a plate to cool while we work on the decorations.
First up are some jelly strawberries, then white icing/ frosting and finally pink icing/ frosting for piping. The icing/ frosting worked well (although I think I made too big of a hole in the piping bag and ran out of pink icing half way around the bottom layer – oops!).
(I also think I attempted to take the strawberries out a few minutes too soon; but never mind, they more-or-less kept their jelly shape).
Putting it all together, big cake under little cake. A little of the strawberry jam to hold the top and bottom together; white icing all over and then pink piping and mixed balls and strawberries to decorate – made the lovely little cake you see below.
Taste-wise, this was good. Like a lovely little layer sponge. The top layer I think was a little dry and crunchy; I'm not sure if this was intended or if I left it in the microwave 10 seconds too long – but it didn't detract at all. The taste was good; all of the decorations worked (although we didn't cut out and roll out the candles, but appreciated them being there for emergency birthday cake needs).
Lots of fun, a little messy, but fun.
All in all we've loved our premium Marimo Candy Club box. Lots of fun things – which is great. Kids would definitely love this; all of the DIY aspects of making the food is great. It would keep them busy on a wet day while meeting that "I want Candy!" need. For adults the fun is no less – there is something remarkably enjoyable about playing with food – no matter how often you're told not to.
We loved the box and would recommend it to anyone after a bit of a different candy subscription/ surprise box. If you would like to receive your own box of candy-related fun, Go to their website: http://marimomarshmallowstore.com/ and a premium box will cost you $29.99; although if that's too much for your wallet, candy boxes start at $11.99 for between 2 and 4 candies (all boxes include DIY candy!) and – if you're not after a box, you can just order your favourite Japanese Candy from their online store.
We enjoyed it a lot – it kept us busy for hours!