Grotesquely Satisfying Desserts (GSD's) was a phrase coined on a recent trip to Japan. I went with two dear friends from college to explore some of the famous cities and sites of Japan. Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo boasted many interesting people, places and foods. I wasn't too surprised by the Japanese love of cutesy sweets. I was surprised, however, by the sheer amount of lovely little places serving gigantic, over the top desserts. Because we walked many miles a day, we required such "snacks" often. I believe my friend Rhonda came up with "GSD" as an accurate description of the "more means more" scale of these treats.
My friend Erica, a first generation Japanese American was quick to note that these desserts/dessert parlors are a very feminine, girlie thing, and men are not so quick to eat sweets in this way. So, of course this idea of "girlie" sparked my curiosity even more. We also observed that there was a particular penchant for anything French in Japan, so there were even lots of creperies that served crepes with fillings such as fruit, ice cream - and naturally- fillings like whole pieces of cheesecake!
Since I am a type 1 Diabetic (the autoimmune kind), my love of baking, and preoccupation with the look and idea of wonderful desserts seems oh, so incredibly ironic. Although, we CAN eat sugar, it can be painfully complicated as to when, how much, and which desserts can be enjoyed. I was lucky to be able to partake in many GSD's because we walked a ridiculous amount and I found my average blood sugar to be about 60 during this trip!! So GSD's it was...afterall I needed them to survive..right?!
I also noticed that some of the desserts were not quite as sweet as some of the stuff you might find in, say...the American Midwest. Many Japanese treats were subtly sweet and made of unconventional ingredients, like a cold, sweet pea soup with rice balls. I loved getting giant pieces of "cake" at convenience stores that were half the sugar of many American treats. Then again, some of the Japanese desserts were pretty much a hi-test conglomeration of simple sugars. Look at the ice cream sundae under the title, yes people, that is a piece of cake ON TOP of a sundae... pure genius (and there were cornflakes at the bottom of the glass -- Rhonda's favorite).
I think my favorite, although it was hard to choose, was a treat in a fancy dessert parlour in the Ginza section of Tokyo (think Upper East Side, NY). It was made with green tea ice cream, shaved ice with green tea syrup, green tea rice balls, and sweet red beans. Those of you who know me realize that I do not miss a chance to have green tea flavored things. The awesome part of this dessert was that it came with a little drink that was made of hot water and a cherry blossom...It actually tasted like cherries. This drink was one of the most subtle and delicious things I have ever had, I really felt like royalty. I will be sure to post more on Japan.