The Mighty Dobos Torte (I’m Fusing Again)

The funniest thing happened this morning!  Last Thursday, I got my camera and lens back, all fixed, just like new!!  YAY, right?  Well, guess what happened as I was setting up photos for my second and third takes on the Dobos Torte this morning?  My cats decided on a game of cat and mouse, and before I could reach for the camera, which was on the table to my right, they came dashing by, knocking both to the hard, wood floor.  Lens and camera broken again, but even worse this time.

Was I being sarcastic when I used the word funniest?  You betcha!  I must have used every 4-letter-word and every combination of 4-letter-words known to man in a span of about 4 seconds, and then I cried like a baby.  UGH, NOT AGAIN!  I just paid almost half of what the camera was worth, and now the lens was no longer under warranty!

Chocolate Fudge Dobos Torte (sort of Dobos Torte)Failure!  I was pulling some of the leftover sugar and decided to give my half- eaten Dobos a tail..or whatever you want to call it.  Kind of phallic..and weird! Ugly and weird. “Why did I leave it on?” weird.

Now I had to use the old point and shoot camera of yore, so please excuse the photos.  In any event, this is why my post is later than usual, but I’ll stop here as I don’t want to waste anymore time bitching about my dumb luck.

The August 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers’ cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

I was pretty excited when I saw it was the Dobos Torte.  Layer upon layer of thin genoise (sponge cake), a rich, buttery, chocolate frosting, crispy caramel coated cake and nut toppers, and a gazillion possibilities when it came to flavors and decor.  However, I hit THE BLOCK again.  Cake Block – similar to my earlier Cheesecake Block, with the addition of flour.

I contacted Audax Artifex (I just found out that was his real name, how cool), and he unblocked me like no one has before (that sounds perverted, doesn’t it?).  Well matched palate combos, written out in perfect detail, covering every corner of the flavor spectrum.  I already knew I was going to take the fusion route again, but now I knew for sure where I was going to take Hungary to – Asia and Mexico!

Matcha Black Sesame Red Bean Dobos Torte. A Japanese take on the classic Dobos Torte! and a Mojito Dobos Torte!

I actually made the last two cakes the night before and day of the challenge.  I was rushing, so frankly, I wasn’t happy with the outcome of any of the three cakes in the looks department.  I’m going through one of those ruts where my creative juices and execution are sluggish. and my kitchen endeavors aren’t endeavoring.  I think it’s the dog days of August, and the fact that I’m worn out physically from all the knee PT, among other situations that have kept me super busy.  I need a good shot of motivation and time!

Before I get into my fused Dobos Torte creations, I’ll start with the original Dobos Torte recipe, which I made last week, before getting my camera back.  Naturally, I strayed from the norm a little and baked the sponge in sheet pans, except, it wasn’t a sponge.  After 2 hours of intense Physical Therapy, plus working out (Yes, I still owe you all the ‘gym’ story.  Next entry, I promise!) and a VERY bizarre/disturbing phone call, I was exhausted and completely distracted.

In a semi-asleep stupor, using the ingredients given to us, I executed the cake as if it were a basic yellow cake.  I didn’t separate the eggs, didn’t fold in the flour – just beat everything together in haste, then divided the batter into two 10 by 15 sheet pans and slid them into the oven haphazardly.  I cut each sheet cake into into 4 rectangles and stacked away.  Naturally, I ended up with 7 thick layers with a tight crumb, instead of a thin, light and airy sponge.

Matcha Black Sesame Red Bean Dobos Torte with White Chocolate Ginger Buttercream. A Japanese take on the classic Dobos Torte!

I knew I wasn’t making a sponge, yet didn’t care at the time as long as it was tasty and looked good.  It did taste good, but technically, the cake part was not what you would categorize as a Dobos Torte.  However, I did execute the caramel coated cake slices (each one ‘torted’ for a thinner slice) properly since I made them the next day with a clearer head and a little more patience.  I didn’t add any lemon juice, and instead made more of a toffee coating with butter and almonds.

According to some DB’ers, most people left the caramel cake triangles on the side of their plates because the caramel was sticky and hard to bite into, chunks of it getting stuck in their teeth.  My wedges were ‘heath bar’ crisp and well received.  Glad I read about their results before making those toppers.  At least one facet of the first Dobos Torte worked in my favor!  Actually, the buttercream was a hit too, smooth, silky, creamy, and all that good stuff.

I didn’t get my camera and lens back until the next day, so half the cake was eaten before I was able to take photos, as you can plainly see in the top photo.  I pieced it back together as best I could, and snapped away.  So much for half-assed attempts and a short stint with my camera before it broke again!

Matcha Black Sesame Red Bean Dobos Torte. A Japanese take on the classic Dobos Torte!UGH, back to the very old point and shoot camera. Green Tea-Black Sesame Dobos Torte with Red Bean Paste Filling and Ginger infused White Chocolate Buttercream with two brittles – black sesame-white honey and black sesame with a little 5-spice powder.

Now to the good parts.  As mentioned above, I knew I was definitely going to take the Dobos Torte in an Asian direction.  Green tea-black sesame sponge, some kind of red bean paste filling, and a light buttercream infused with a little ginger.  Of course I used the recipe given to us,  adding Matcha powder and black sesame to the sponge and using white chocolate and ginger (I added a chunk of fresh ginger to the the egg mixture while whisking and heating it over the double boiler, then removed it before adding the chocolate and butter) in the buttercream, lightening it up with a little unsweetened whipped cream.  I split up the batter and baked it on 12 x 17 sheet pans to insure nice, thin layers.

Matcha Black Sesame Red Bean Dobos Torte with White Chocolate Ginger Buttercream. A Japanese take on the classic Dobos Torte!

On a more shapely note; I’m feeling rather ‘rectangular’ this month, so a typical round Dobos Torte wasn’t even a crumb on my brain plate.  With that said, red bean paste and green tea seem to be a classic combination in many Asian desserts (just check out about 80% of the food blogs for a bounty of creative takes using both).  I made the paste myself ; going light on the sugar and leaving it slightly chunky, then incorporated it into some of the white chocolate buttercream for easier spreading.  I was never one to salivate over any desserts containing red beans or red bean paste, but I have to admit, it was quite tasty.

Red bean seems to be as ubiquitous to Asian desserts as chocolate is to American desserts.  If you’ve never tried it, please give it a shot!

Finally, the creme de la creme, literally.  Miniature Mojito Dobos Tortes cut into whimsical hearts, each layer brushed with white rum simple syrup, filled with dark chocolate-creme de menthe ganache, and piped with white chocolate-lime buttercream.  Initially, I was going to go for 6-8 layers, but once I cut into them, I decided 4 was enough since they’re so small and might come apart when cutting due to the heart shape.

Mojito Dobos Torte

Finally, I’d like to thank Anula, from Anula’s Kitchen for my second Lovely Blog award, and Laura from Tiramisu for the Kreative Blogger Award.  I’ll pass them on and list the ‘7 things about me’ in my next entry!

Mojito Dobos Torte

Dobos Torte Recipe

Since the recipe for the Dobos Torte is really, really long, I’m going to send you HERE or HERE to get it.  You can also snag it off most of the Daring Bakers by clicking on the links to their blogs at the Daring Bakers Blogroll .  PLUS, you’ll get to see a ton of amazing recreations and unique takes on the Dobos Torte!

Red Bean Paste Filling
2 cups red adzuki beans
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar

1. Cover beans in cold water and soak uncovered, overnight.

2. Drain, transfer back to the pot and cover in 5 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

3. Drain and puree with a hand blender or in a food processor.

4. Press through a metal sieve. This is a very time consuming process, but if you want a super smooth paste, it’s worth it. I just mashed/pureed them with the skins on because I wanted a slight bite to it. The pureed beans become a thick paste and it takes some time to press through the fine mesh strainer.  Clean off the underside as you press, and continue pressing until most of the bean puree passes through and the skins are left behind.

5. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add pureed beans and sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon for about 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to cool.

6. After it has cooled, mix in enough of the ‘white chocolate’ buttercream from the recipe in the links above, until it reaches a spreadable consistency.  I doubled the buttercream recipe to insure I would have enough for the last two torte preparations.

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  1. WOW oh WOW, so worth the wait!! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them all–especially the first picture with the caramel decorations and they all had such great sizes! I can’t even believe that you were “blocked” — you have creativity oozing everywhere! 🙂 Genius with the black sesame seeds and caramel!!

  2. I’m so glad I could ‘unblock’ you (uhmmm that does sound odd). That Green tea-Black sesame with red bean paste filling and ginger infused white chocolate buttercream ‘Dobos Torte’ is to die for. When you discussed it with me your flavour fusion ideas I was very excited and so looking 4ward to this post and WOW you have done everything so well (in fact superbly) I’m so IMPRESSED. You really found your mo-jo didn’t you. Bummer about the camera and lens bad luck but your point-and-shot photos are still excellent to my eye. And those mini-cocktail tortas are wonderful. The various colours and flavours are lovely and really are visually arresting. These are some of the most interesting (in the good way) tortas I have seen and will ever see I’m sure.

    OBTW it is Audax Artifex you made a typo above (no big deal).

  3. I’ve been waiting for you post! About bloody time, what took you so long?!?! 😛

    But seriously, broken again!? Just not cool. *minute of silence*

    Your tortes are AWESOME.

    Even your normal yellow sponge torte looks fantastic, I love the caramel wedges on top.

    As for the other 2… sheesh. They’re incredible. I would need some convincing to try out the asian one, but bring on the mojito! Those are fantastic!

    I love the way you’ve decorated all of the tortes, so creative! I think I need to talk to you about flavour ideas before each challenge we do, I thought I was getting all creative, lol.

    Lovely work!

    Again, sorry about your camera 🙁

  4. I’m so sorry to hear about your camera lens!! But nevertheless, you did a really great job with this month’s challenge!

  5. Ah hah, Audex is a male? Interesting! I was not as excited as you were about this cake, and I wish my layers were thick like yours – I just had too much frosting. All in all, I wish my cake were any one of yours! Fabulous my dear, as always! You rock! I wish you blogged more!

  6. I think these must be the most attractive and colourful Dobos I’ve seen. And your pictures look excellent so your P&S is working very well.
    Hope you get your camera working well again soon.

  7. WOW! Had I not seen it here, I would not have believed it… I’m floored. Speechless.

    They’re all soooooo amazing. “Amazing”, the word doesn’t even start to qualitfy my thoughts…

  8. Point and Shoot or not, they’re great photos!

    I can imagine how you sounded. I probably sounded much the same when the hubby dropped my camera a number of years ago. He’s rarely allowed to touch my current one as a result.

  9. I live in point & shoot hell, so I totally relate, but I think your pictures are just great.
    I had no idea that was Audax’s real name – how freaking cool. And I’m very much looking forward to the gym story.
    Your cakes are all amazing – you blow me away every time. I’m hoping to get back with the challenges soon, but I’ve really enjoyed seeing how you’ve aced yours. These are such beautiful variations – bravo.

  10. I’m so sorry about your camera – again! However, even without a fancy camera, your photos look wonderful =D. All of the flavour combos sound spectacular – Yum!

  11. aww sorry about the camera! And the disturbing phone call, whatever that may be!

    And the flaovours- OMG< are you kidding me? You call this needing unblocking? They are brilliant!

  12. Holy torte, this is incredible! I am so, so awed right now! Once again, your variations are spectacular and absolutely stunning, regardless of what camera you shot them with! I love the Asian and mojito ideas! You are so creative!

  13. Oh my gosh – your cakes are gorgeous!! I can’t believe you think they look sloppy? I think they look incredible, and your flavor combos are amazing. Inspired!!

  14. Now, some get on my case about being optimistic and new age-y in these situations, but maybe the universe is pushing some mysterious new direction around your photography? A change to polaroid perhaps? Or maybe even something crazy- line drawings of your creations? Or representations in frosting? Either way, these look amazing as usual, and your flavor combinations have me really wishing that we were neighbors. Great job…

  15. dang, the little ones are so cute, and the big one gorgeous! and you seem to be quite handy with a point ‘n’ shoot, the pics are great anyways!

  16. OMG! Audax told me about the green tea and red bean combination but she didn’t mention all the other wonderful “fusion” of flavors! I am drooling over my keyboard….you are one crazy baker…good crazy…great crazy…oh..just awesome crazy…like audax…LOL! those mini mojitos look so adorable….

  17. Whoa there lady! SHOW OFF!!!! =) Your tortes are freaking amazing! Not one, but THREE different types!? Beautifully done. Those are two very naughty cats. I am so sorry to hear the fate of your camera (again). However, nicely done.

  18. Wooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!!!!!! I don’t even know where to start. I am amazed. First of all, the Asian Dobos is so clever and amazing looking. Love, love, love the black sesame seed caramel whirligigs on top. The Mojito sounds phenomenal. The shape is so cool.

    And, hey, you did the wedges on top of the rectangle just like my Dobos (except you did this amazing thing with the nuts embedded in it and I have no idea how you did it while working with super hot caramel). I also left out the lemon from the caramel and people happily wolfed down the caramel wedges.

  19. So many delicious flavors and so many creations… all of them are spectacular…I think you have to carry your camera around your neck all the time… I don’t know how you can stay calm after the 2nd incident… hope you’ll fix it soon 🙂

  20. Hi Lisa 🙂
    A big wooooowww! That’s what i have to say!
    Your dobos torte version is just amazing- great colors, flavors combination and lovely decoration-
    probably one of the best out of all I`ve seen.
    I’m really curious about the flavors because I never tasted red adzuki paste filling-
    I don’t think we have it here at all..
    wtg girl! you are truely talented

  21. THat really sucks, A LOT! Dudette- I would just cry… for days. And I am quite sure I would swear up a storm myself.

    The torte looks great though, despite the point and shoot. (I am so passed my point and shoot). I love the little hearts and how you decorated them, quite unique.

  22. Yikes! I’m sorry to hear about the camera. But please don’t disown your kitties! They really didn’t mean it.

    The cakes looks soooooooo gorgeous! They really are works of art.

  23. I have been waiting to see your pictures. But firstly, I can’t believe your lens broke – again!??!! What are the odds of that happening? It’s funny how you have pictures on different cameras here. Just shows the coordination of baking and photo taking, huh? I just can’t believe your flavour combinations as well as your presentation. Like you, I say this over and over, but just fantastic. I love how you always have a little twist. I thought I was ‘pushing the boundaries’ with a rectangular cake – v. round. What a risk taker I am! 😉

  24. Amazing cakes! Love the mojito ones. I think they all look beautiful and not sloppy at all. You did a great job, and these flavor combos are awesome!

  25. Wow…I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed by coming by to look at your post for this challenge! Gorgeous results, despite your cat-compromised photos. I love red bean paste and have never given a thought to making my own. Husband is NOT fond, so I’d have to find the right application.

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  27. Creative woman!!! Yes, you are!! You have outdone yourself!! waw!!!

    Everthing looks outstanding!!!!!! Congrats on your latest award!! Enjoy!!

  28. Eek! I Feel your pain with the camera and lens… Your cakes look lovely!! I’m still sad I didnt have time to do the challenge.. it looks and sounds like a lot of fun. I have to say (Again!) That your cakes are really super. I laughed a lot at the “he unblocked me like no one has before” and I had the same perverted thoughts! HAHAHAHAHA!

  29. GD cat! Hope your camera comes back healthy soon! Goooooood job omitting the lemon juice! Who the heck thought that was a good idea in the first place? I love your versions! Fantastic job my dear. 🙂

  30. Oh dear, so sorry to hear about the camera again. All your Dobos look absolutely stunning, don’t know which one to pick. I love the almond studded caramel look, I love red bean and matcha combos (being Asian), but I think I’d go the mojito – my favourite drink. Well done again, very, very impressived.

  31. Lisa, you are amazing! . .such variety..
    The Miniature Mojito Dobos Tortes with white rum simple syrup brushed layers .. that just sounds divine ..
    And the red bean paste filling… something I would never have thought of in my wildest dreams. 🙂 I must try it sometime…

  32. I just saw the pictures two days ago and now I had time to read the post. I can’t imagine what you could have done if your creative juices had been running more. This is just amazing! I am glad Audax was able to “unblock” you some! LOL!

    I love both versions, the colors are astonishing.

    Beautiful job!

  33. Gorgeous as always – love the red bean and green tea idea. Someday (always someday!) when I have more time, I want to play with that combo. Sooooooo sorry to hear about your camera – the photos are great, regardless of which camera you use!!

  34. I’m wincing over the camera debacle and having a new kitten in our house, trust me, I’ve been keeping an eye on mine! You truly went all out. I’m always envious when people make more than one version of our challenges. I’m too lazy to make the effort. The colors in your tortes are spectacular. Very, very nice job.

  35. Wow, that’s quite a story with all that chaos, camera and cats! But it didn’t deter you, you still made several versions which all look fabulous, I love the green tea and sesame seed flavour! I went for the coffee flavour, bit of a unintentional repeat of my tiramisu ice cream! thanks for the comment.

  36. You have terrific flavor combos going on with your cake. Sorry to hear about your camera being busted up again. Dang cats! Fortunately, my cat knows to stay away from me or she will meet my foot… lol. J/K. In your first picture, I think the tail represents el gato… the dang cat. All your photos look great. It’s not about the camera. It’s all about the artist – you!

  37. Hurray your camera is back! My goodness your challenge looks decadent. Really wonderful job.

  38. Love the red bean/green tea version – very creative. LOL about the phallic caramel tail – it looks delicious, nonetheless. Your photos are still amazing, despite the loss of your other camera.

  39. I’m developing a seriously healthy respect for you Daring Bakers since I see to be incapable of sticking with it. I think your cakes look fantastic.

    So sorry to hear about your camera–that is unbelievable bad luck.

  40. I’m really sorry to hear about the lens and camera. I can imagine how you must have felt. I hope things get fixed very soon. Life is full of these trials, isn’t it?

    Your tortes look absolutely stunning though. I cannot believe the variety of colors and flavors I was looking at. The red bean paste is very interesting. And guess what, I just bought some red adzuki beans because they were there. 🙂 Thanks for the recipe and God bless!

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  42. Lisa, so glad you are back! But sorry for the broken camera again… Well, what are you going to do?

    Anyway, just drop by to leave a great compliment of your matcha red bean interpretation of Dobos. They are absolutely beautiful in color, texture, decoration, and definitely the taste. Extremely in love with the mini Dobos……


  43. ‘kay it must be said.. I think you’re batshit crazy. Those photos are AMAZING. There wasn’t one that didn’t bring out the lil envy monster in me, wishing I could take a photo like that! I don’t think it’s the camera, my love, it’s you.. you know how to take a good photo regardless of what camera you are using. 😀

    But on that same note.. *ouch* Sorry about the repeat offense.. did the cats get in much trouble? I’d ban them from their catnip for a good month! hehehehe

    Love the flavor combos.. especially the mojito – you know I’m all about the mojitos! YUM! Beautiful cakes.. beautiful photos.. beautiful chef! 🙂


  44. You are DOBOSTASTIC…what a masterpiece of a post! Brilliant creations…you are th egreatest, really! Sorry to hear about the camera. ooh the naughty cats…what a patch of bad luck! Your pictures are still very very good!

  45. Sorry I’m a bit late…
    But aw, Lisa! So bad about your lens, again! I do hope you’ll have a very grateful surprise, after all that bad luck!
    But even though you used your point and shoot camera(I still use that one, after almost one year blogging! Hahahah), your pictures (and Dobos Tortes) are great! And I really loved the idea of using Azuki beans! Gotta try that technique, for sure!

  46. Stunning! I love the mojito cakes. So cute. I think you made enough variations to make up for my lack of a post this month…thanxs 😛

  47. Sorry about your camera, that is just awful. But your cakes on the other hand look wonderful. You were so creative with your different variations and your layers look perfect. Nice job!

  48. Oh yeah, I’d take a big slice of the one with red bean paste. In one of Nick Malgieri’s recipes in Modern Baking he says ah heck, just throw it all into one bowl, and I was happy with the results.

  49. You are TOO MUCH! First, sorry about your camera. I think the pictures still look amazing. I can’t believe you made this recipe three times in such a short time. The little mojito cakes? I am dying!! They sound so good. Hope your camera is fixed soon and might I suggest wrapping it in bubble wrap if you leave it on the table? 😉

  50. OMG LIsa!!! Absolutely gorgeous, STUNNING job. I love the idea of your flavour combinations, so original.

    Hope your camera is fixed soon.

  51. OMG!!!! You always go crazy with the challenges! I’m always in awww when I come here! So sorry about the camera… Oh! I just saw you’ll be hosting a challenge soon, I can’t wait to see what you’re choosing!

  52. I’m just speechless… You creations are simply beyond words! I think that first cake of yours might be my favorite interpretation of this challenge over all… And of course, your incredible photography only makes everything look all the more impressive!

  53. Wow, wow, wow…I don’t know why, but you still impress me, I should know better by now 🙂 Love them all and it was so nice to look at the pictures, really a treat for my eyes, since I could not taste them 🙂

  54. I’ve been waiting for your post…
    I cannot believe what your cats did , breaking your lenses again…
    that’s crazy… are you going to get a new one now…

    I didnt got the chance to do my torte yet, iam wainting till i finish my pickling and canning for the markets still have a whole bag of pearl onions to clean and pickle Martini Pearl Onions.. then I am going to do the tote…

    I knew deep in my heart that you are going to do my favourit one the chocolate and one with all the yummy sugar nuts on top it looks gorgeous this is the one i have in mind to do…
    never tasted red beans in desserts yet… i dont have lots of Asian Bakeries around this area, its so creative to use these flavours in a torte like this…. very interesting experiment… do they sell the beans in bulk stores dry ?? or comes in cans what shall I look for???

    You are brilliant my friend. and if the camera brings all the beauty of your creative pieces, still the ideas and creations are there no denial…Excellent job my friend.

  55. So sorry about your camera but you are amazing making all those different versions! I love red bean and green tea flavors…but then again I am asian haha.

  56. Your cakes are gorgeous! They don’t look sloppy at all, I think they are amazing, as always! I love the red bean paste filling – you are so creative!

  57. I’m still so impressed by your photos. I work with a point-and-shoot (don’t have anything else), and I can’t ever seem to get as crisp of photos as you do! I love the green/red color of the red bean/green tea torte. Would be fun at Christmas time! Thanks again for visiting my blog!

  58. You really knocked it out of the park with this one, you little Posada of the kitchen you! 🙂 The flavor combinations you come up with are just to die for. The red bean/green tea is genius, really. I am so glad Audux was able to, er, unblock you. And BTW…the fact that Audax Artifex is his real name just made my day.

    I am sorry to hear about the camera…though your point & shoot pics are pretty damn good, girl.

  59. Lisa delicious desserts and your photos are quite professional. Can’t wait to see your vegetarian and vegan recipes. Could you include how you cook broccoli I am very interested in methodology. Thanks and best wishes on healing quickly. Go Sox!

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  61. Hi Lisa
    I missed making the DB August Challenge as we went on vacation. All your creations look so fabulous!
    Yankees are hanging in there –fingers crossed they continue to win!
    Hugs, Pat

  62. Hey, Lisa! I thought your Dad knocked over your camera? Anyway, I know you’ve had a rough time hopefully things will improve.

    As always I’m impressed with you pushing yourself to the limits and coming up with something truly creative. I do think you’re MUCH too hard on yourself! While the photos may not be up to your standards they are far from being horrible.

  63. Uh oh, I knew it wasn’t going to be a good ending when you said “funniest”… I’m sorry! Funny story, though, you tell it in an amusing way :)These cakes looks AMAZING! truly worth it of a bistro somewhere posh and fancy! Having just returned from a month-long stay in Japan, I’m totally feeling you on the adzuki bean variation. I’m pretty sure I ate my own weight worth of bean-filled, gelatinous, rice based sweet treats!

  64. Wow, those really are unbelievably beautiful. Great job Lisa! I have never had a red bean paste confection, I can’t even imagine what the taste of that would be.

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