Hey everyone, Happy New Years! For the first time in my life I found myself celebrating New Year’s Eve somewhere other than home in California (if you can count falling asleep by 10pm celebrating), and where else would I rather enjoy this moment than in Japan?!
On New Year’s Day I went for a long walk (I’m talking about 33km) around the Tokyo area to explore and enjoy the fresh air. Sometime in the evening I stopped by a Lawsons convenience store in Odaiba to eat some dinner, and this particular dessert stood out to me against the lighter background of yellow bread and light.
As the name would suggest, it was black. As the name would not suggest, it does not taste like melon (not even normal melonpan tastes like melon). This bread gets its name solely from its appearance. The outer crust of the bread resembles the outside of a melon, and the bread is colored black because it is infused with chocolate flavor. The packaging itself directly says that: “ベルギーチョコホイップ,” which means “Belgian chocolate whip (cream).”
I already like melonpan for the most part, but this black melonpan was on a whole other level! The outside felt particularly crispy and was dotted with chocolate chips, while the inside was both creamy and fluffy with separate layers of lightly-sweet chocolate whip cream and airy chocolate bread. It was like Matryoshka dolls of chocolate textures! From the outside to the inside the whole bread got softer, and the whip cream did not get any of the bread soggy, which was a nice surprise.
(Now that I think about it, I wonder if I can enjoy black melonpan more if it was heated… the chocolate chips would melt and become gooey, and maybe the insides would become more like a cake?)
Flavorwise, I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of chocolate flavor, which I imagine could be because of the general lightness of sweetness in Japanese desserts. There weren’t any unexpected flavors: everything is just chocolate, so if you’re not a fan of chocolate for some reason, then you already know you should avoid this.
The only gripe I have with black melonpan is in its construction. The top of the bread is not directly attached to the rest of the bread, so as you take bites the whip cream begins to ooze out and potentially make a mess. I imagine the makers did this to make it easier to fill the bread with its several layers, so I guess this was the tradeoff. Just be careful when eating this!
All in all, black melonpan is one of the best conbini sweet breads I have ever eaten, and while it is 50% more expensive than normal melonpan, I think it’s worth the extra money if you’re looking for some more flavor in your desserts. Unfortunately, ever since that day I have yet to find another black melonpan, but I will remain vigilant and hungry for more!