Besides indulging in savory dishes like Chicken Katsu Curry or Udon Noodles, I recently stumbled upon the dessert world of Japan, and it’s just as delightful. A friend of mine introduced me to this sweet bun called melon pan and said it was one of the most significant desserts in Japan that I gotta try.
Chocolate Melon Pan recipe
The melon pan is a type of Japanese bread – Kashi Pan. Despite its name, there’s no melon flavor involved—rather, it’s named for its appearance. The dough is typically covered with a thin layer of crisp cookie crust, creating a cracked pattern resembling the rind of a melon.
From this basic Japanese melon bread recipe, people add different ingredients to create various variations. It could be Matcha Melon Pan with green tea powder in the dough or Chocolate Chip Melon Pan with chocolate chips between the cookie layers or Custard-filled Melon Pan. Flavored Melon Pans (strawberry, caramel, maple syrup, or coffee) are also popular. Melon Pan Ice Cream is also a favorite treat on hot days.
Inspired by the melon bun I had in Tokyo, I decided to whip up my own version at home, giving it a twist by adding cocoa – Chocolate Melon Pan. Here’s how to make a melon pan or melon bread with chocolate flavor:
Chocolate Melon Pan – Japanese Sweet Bread
for the bread
- 2 1/4 cups flour I used gluten-free one
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp instant yeast
- 1/2 cup warm milk
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 1 egg
for the cookie crust
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- In a bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt.
- In a separate bowl, mix the warm milk and instant yeast. Let it sit for 5 minutes until frothy.
- Add the yeast mixture, melted butter, and egg to the dry ingredients. Mix until a dough forms.
- Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 10 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic.
- Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover it with a damp cloth, and let it rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
- For the cookie crust, cream together the softened butter and powdered sugar. Add the egg and mix well. Gradually add the flour until a dough forms.
- Divide the cookie dough into small portions and flatten them to fit the tops of your melon pan.
- Divide the risen dough into equal portions and shape them into balls and then flatten them slightly.
- Place a piece of the cookie dough on top of the balls. Score the flattened dough with a crisscross pattern using a sharp knife, creating a diamond or square pattern.Make sure not to cut too deep, just enough to give it that signature appearance. This step will help the cookie crust expand evenly during baking.
- Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
- Let them cool for about 7 minutes and serve
Japanese Kashi pan
Japanese kashi pan refers to a variety of sweet bread or pastries in Japan. “Kashi” means sweets or confections, and “pan” is the Japanese word for bread. These delightful treats are known for their soft, fluffy texture and sweet fillings or toppings. Kashi pan can be found in bakeries, convenience stores, and supermarkets throughout Japan, and they come in a wide array of flavors and styles.
These sweet Japanese breads come in various flavors and fillings, ranging from classic favorites to more innovative options. Some common fillings include red bean paste (anko), custard, chocolate, matcha (green tea), sweet potato, and even curry (Kare Pan). These ingredients not only add sweetness but also bring unique Japanese twists to the bread.
There are numerous types of kashi pan, each with its unique characteristics. Some popular Japanese bread styles include:
Melon Pan is one of the most iconic kashi pan. It's named for its melon-like appearance, featuring a sweet cookie crust on top of the bread.
Anpan is a classic sweet roll filled with red bean paste (anko). The combination of the sweet bread and the earthy sweetness of the red bean paste is a beloved traditional treat.
Cream Pan (Kurimu-pan) is filled with sweet custard or cream, adding a rich and luscious element to the soft bread.
Chocolate Cornet (Korone): Shaped like a cornet or ice cream cone, this kashi pan is filled with chocolate, providing a delightful contrast between the slightly crispy exterior and gooey chocolate interior.
Yaki Imo Pan: Inspired by the Japanese tradition of roasting sweet potatoes (yaki imo), this kashi pan incorporates sweet potato puree into the dough, creating a sweet and earthy flavor.