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Jelly & Beans: The Layered History of Anmitsu Dessert

14/10/2023 3:00 PM

Discover Anmitsu, Japan's iconic layered dessert that fuses jelly and beans. Originating from the Meiji era, this treat has evolved to captivate both tradition and innovation in the culinary world, offering not just taste but a sensory journey through its presentation and rich history.
Overhead view of a beautifully presented Anmitsu on traditional Japanese tableware with decorative elements


Get ready to indulge in the sweet sensation that is Anmitsu, a layered dessert that beautifully combines the textures and flavors of jelly and beans. This popular Japanese dessert traces its humble origins back to the Meiji era and has since evolved to become a symbol of tradition and innovation in modern Japanese culture.

Join us on a journey to explore the fascinating history of Anmitsu, its key ingredients, art of presentation, mouthwatering variations, and rising international popularity. Discover the surprising health benefits of this delectable dessert that makes it not only delicious but also a nourishing treat.

Prepare to satisfy your sweet tooth with homemade Anmitsu recipes and experience the delightful harmony of Jelly & Beans with each spoonful. Anmitsu is more than just a dessert - it's a cultural phenomenon that is sure to capture your heart and taste buds.

The Origins of Anmitsu

A traditional Japanese market during the Meiji era, the origin period of the Anmitsu dessert

Like many traditional Japanese desserts, the origins of Anmitsu can be traced back to the Meiji era. During this time, Japan underwent a period of cultural transformation, with a growing interest in Western-style cuisine and desserts.

However, Anmitsu remained distinctly Japanese, combining local ingredients and flavors to create a sweet treat that captured the essence of traditional Japanese cuisine.

Originally, Anmitsu consisted of sweet bean paste, agar-agar jelly, and fruit such as lychee or pineapple. However, as Japan's economy grew, so did the variety and availability of ingredients, leading to the evolution of Anmitsu into the multi-layered dessert we know today.

Although its origins are humble, Anmitsu has become a beloved dessert in Japanese culture, with a rich history that continues to be celebrated and enjoyed.

Anmitsu Ingredients

Close-up of Anmitsu layers showcasing red bean paste, agar-agar jelly, mochi, and topped with seasonal fruits

Anmitsu is a layered dessert that consists of various ingredients, each adding its unique flavor and texture to the final creation. The primary ingredients for Anmitsu are red bean paste, agar-agar, and mochi.

Red bean paste or anko is a sweet filling made by boiling and mashing red beans with sugar. It has a rich velvety texture and a sweet taste that balances the jelly's refreshing flavor. Anko is typically used as a filling for Japanese confectionery and is also served as a dessert on its own.

Agar-agar is a jelly-like substance made from red algae and is traditionally used in Japanese cuisine as a gelling agent. In Anmitsu, agar-agar is used to create the jelly layer, which together with the red bean paste and mochi, forms the layers of the dessert.

Mochi is a sticky rice cake made from glutinous rice flour. It has a chewy texture and is often included in Japanese desserts. Its addition to Anmitsu adds a delightful contrast in texture to the dessert.

Other ingredients can be added to Anmitsu, such as seasonal fruits like strawberries, peaches, and blueberries. Ice cream and syrup are also popular additions that enhance the dessert's flavors and presentation.

The Art of Anmitsu Presentation

When it comes to Anmitsu, presentation is key. The way this dessert is presented can enhance the overall experience of enjoying it. Anmitsu presentation is an art form that focuses on using dessert aesthetics, color coordination, and traditional Japanese tableware to create a visual feast.

One of the critical aspects of Anmitsu presentation is the use of the right tableware. Traditional Japanese tableware, such as lacquer trays and ceramic dishes, are preferred when serving Anmitsu. The use of these tableware not only adds to the visual appeal but also gives a sense of authenticity to the dessert.

Color coordination is also a crucial element in Anmitsu presentation. The dessert's colors should complement one another, creating a visually harmonious look. For example, red bean paste's reddish-brown color pairs perfectly with the translucent jelly and the white mochi. The use of seasonal fruits as toppings also adds to the color coordination, bringing in a pop of vibrant hues.

Arrangement techniques are used while constructing Anmitsu to create an aesthetically pleasing dessert. The components of the dessert, including the jelly, beans, and fruits, are arranged in a specific way to create contrast and balance. For example, adding the beans and fruits on top of the jelly layer creates a stunning visual effect that adds to the overall presentation.

Anmitsu presentation is all about the details. The use of edible flowers, patterned toothpicks, and other decorative elements can take the dessert's presentation to the next level. The possibilities are endless when it comes to Anmitsu presentation techniques.

Variations of Anmitsu

Variations of Anmitsu: Fresh fruit topping, with ice cream, and drizzled with syrup

Over the years, Anmitsu has evolved into various mouthwatering variations that cater to different tastes and preferences. Here are some popular variations:

  1. Fruit Toppings: Fresh seasonal fruits such as strawberries, mango, and kiwi are a popular addition to Anmitsu, adding a burst of sweetness and color to the dessert. The fruits are typically arranged on top of the jelly and beans in an aesthetically pleasing manner.
  2. Ice Cream: Adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream to Anmitsu creates a delightful contrast between the cold creaminess of the ice cream and the chewiness of the mochi and beans. It's a popular summer variation that's enjoyed in Japan.
  3. Syrup: Some Anmitsu variations include pouring syrup over the dessert for a sweeter and more indulgent flavor. Common syrups used include brown sugar syrup, matcha syrup, and kinako syrup.

These variations are not only visually appealing but also enhance the flavor and texture of Anmitsu, making it a versatile dessert that can be enjoyed in different ways.

Anmitsu in Modern Japanese Culture

Modern Japanese cafe specializing in Anmitsu and an Instagram post showcasing the dessert's popularity

Anmitsu has become more than just a dessert in modern Japanese culture. It has transformed into a symbol of tradition and innovation, with dessert cafes across Japan specializing in Anmitsu and presenting it in unique ways. These cafes focus not only on the taste of Anmitsu but also on its visual appeal, making it an experience that engages all senses.

Social media has also played a significant role in Anmitsu's popularity. Instagram, in particular, has become a hub for sharing pictures of this beautiful dessert. From professional photographers to amateur foodies, Anmitsu has captured the attention of many and continues to inspire creativity in presentation and photography.

Furthermore, Anmitsu has become a popular souvenir item for tourists visiting Japan. It represents a taste of Japanese culture and tradition that can be enjoyed and shared with others. Its rising international popularity as a Japanese culinary export has become a source of pride for locals.

The evolution of Anmitsu from a traditional Japanese dessert to an icon of modern culture shows the adaptability and creativity of the Japanese people. Anmitsu has expanded beyond its original boundaries and has become a dessert that appeals to all generations and nationalities.

Anmitsu Goes Global

While Anmitsu originated in Japan, its popularity has spread worldwide in recent years. This delightful dessert has become a sought-after treat in many countries, captivating taste buds with its unique blend of flavors and textures.

Japanese culinary exports have gained immense popularity in recent years, and Anmitsu has played a significant role in this. Its international popularity can be attributed to its versatility, as Anmitsu can be customized to suit different tastes and preferences.

The beauty of Anmitsu lies in the way its different components come together to create a perfect harmony of sweet and refreshing flavors. This combination has won over dessert lovers across the globe, making Anmitsu a must-try for anyone looking to explore traditional Japanese cuisine.

Anmitsu Recipes to Try at Home

Experience the delectable flavors of Anmitsu right in the comfort of your own home with our homemade recipe guide. Follow our step-by-step instructions and indulge in the delightful layers of jelly and beans that make up this traditional Japanese dessert.

To start, you will need:

  • 1 cup of red bean paste
  • 1/2 cup of mochi
  • 1/2 cup of agar-agar jelly
  • 1/2 cup of canned fruit cocktail
  • 1/4 cup of honey or maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup of water


  1. Start by preparing the agar-agar jelly according to the package instructions. Pour the mixture into a shallow dish and refrigerate until set. Once set, cut the jelly into small cubes and set aside.
  2. Next, cook the mochi according to the package instructions. Roll it into small balls and set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the canned fruit cocktail with honey or maple syrup and water. Stir until the fruit is coated in the syrup mixture.
  4. Now, it's time to assemble your Anmitsu. Place a few cubes of jelly at the bottom of a bowl or dish. Add a spoonful of red bean paste, followed by a few mochi balls. Repeat this layering process, alternating between the jelly, red bean paste, and mochi until the bowl is full.
  5. Finally, top off your Anmitsu with the fruit cocktail mixture, and serve chilled.

Experiment with different toppings and flavors to create your own unique version of Anmitsu. Whether enjoyed on its own or as a sweet ending to a Japanese-inspired meal, this homemade dessert is sure to impress.

Anmitsu and Health Benefits

Aside from its delicious flavor and appealing presentation, Anmitsu also offers several health benefits. The dessert typically includes a variety of fresh fruits, which are rich in antioxidants, essential nutrients that help protect the body from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals.

Additionally, Anmitsu contains agar-agar, a type of gelatin made from seaweed. This ingredient has been found to aid in digestion by promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, which can help improve overall gut health.

The red bean paste found in Anmitsu is also a good source of protein and complex carbohydrates, which can provide sustained energy and help regulate blood sugar levels.

Overall, Anmitsu is not only a tasty treat but can also offer some health benefits. So, next time you indulge in this delightful dessert, you can feel good about treating your taste buds and your body.


Anmitsu is a dessert that harmoniously brings together the textures and flavors of jelly and beans, creating a sweet sensation that has captured the hearts and taste buds of many. Through tracing its origins to the Meiji era in Japan and exploring its evolution through time, it is clear that Anmitsu has a rich and fascinating history worth exploring.

Its key ingredients, including the velvety red bean paste, delicate mochi, and refreshing agar-agar jelly, work in perfect harmony to create a sweet treat that is both delicious and nourishing. Anmitsu has also evolved over time, with various mouthwatering variations now available, including seasonal fruit toppings, ice cream, and drizzles of syrup.

It is not just the taste of Anmitsu that is impressive, but also its presentation. The art of Anmitsu presentation enhances the visual appeal of this dessert, with color coordination, arrangement techniques, and traditional Japanese tableware playing a significant role.

Anmitsu is also significant in modern Japanese culture, with trendy dessert cafes specializing in the treat and its presence on social media platforms. Its popularity has not been limited to Japan, as the dessert has become a sought-after treat in various countries worldwide.

Finally, Anmitsu is a dessert that can be made at home, with step-by-step guides available to help you create your own version complete with authentic flavors and presentation techniques. With the inclusion of fresh fruits, which are rich in antioxidants, along with its digestive aid properties, Anmitsu is not just delicious but also a nourishing treat.


Q: What is the history of Anmitsu dessert?

A: Anmitsu is a traditional Japanese cold dessert that has been enjoyed for centuries. It originated in the Meiji era and has since become a popular sweet treat in Japan.

Q: What are the main ingredients in Anmitsu dessert?

A: Anmitsu is typically made with a variety of ingredients including kanten jelly, sweet red bean paste, fruit, and syrup.

Q: What is kanten?

A: Kanten, also known as agar or agar-agar, is a gelatinous substance derived from seaweed. It is commonly used in Japanese desserts and helps to give Anmitsu its jelly-like texture.

Q: What is dango?

A: Dango is a type of Japanese sweet made from rice flour. It is often skewered and served with Anmitsu as a topping.

Q: What is mitsumame?

A: Mitsumame is a sweet syrup made from black sugar and is commonly served with Anmitsu to add sweetness and flavor.

Q: Can Anmitsu be customized with different toppings?

A: Yes, Anmitsu can be customized with a variety of toppings such as fruit, mochi, dorayaki, daifuku, and wagashi.

A: Yes, Anmitsu is a beloved dessert in Japan and is commonly enjoyed during the summer months for its refreshing and sweet flavors.

Q: Can I make Anmitsu at home?

A: Absolutely! There are many recipes available online that provide step-by-step instructions for making Anmitsu in the comfort of your own kitchen.

Q: What are some variations of Anmitsu?

A: Some popular variations of Anmitsu include Cream Anmitsu, Mandarin Anmitsu, and Zenzai Anmitsu.