Anmitsu is a Japanese dessert which uses anko, sweet bean paste, and sweet syrup called mitsu. The word “an” is an abbreviation of anko, and “mitsu” means syrup. It is offered all year around, but it is known as a dessert that reminds the seasonal feeling of summer.
Anmitsu derived from a dessert called mitsumame which uses red peas as a main ingredient.
Mitusmame was created in the Edo period (1603-1867), by adding red peas to marzipan-like dessert made from rice powder. In the Meiji period (1868-1912), ingredients such as agar, apricot, rice cake were added, and with sweet syrup poured on top. This type of mitsumame became the standard mitsumame which a dessert shop in Asakusa, Tokyo started serving in 1903.
Anmitsu is an alternative of mitsumame which adds anko, sweet bean paste, on top. The basic ingredients are agar cut into square pieces, red peas boiled and cooled down, sweet red bean paste, a kind of rice cake which is like a soft skin, and compote apricot. There are two kinds of syrup you can choose, either shiromitsu, white sugar syrup, or kuromitsu, brown sugar syrup.
It is believed that anmitsu was first served in 1930, at a dessert shop called Wakamatsu, which is in Ginza, Tokyo. The popular spots that sell anmitsu are Kyoto, Kamakura, Asakusa, and Ueno. Perhaps, there is sumo anmitsu that people take home as a souvenir after going to watch sumo wrestling tournament.
There are variety of anmitsu by adding different kinds of toppings. Cream anmitsu uses whipped cream or ice cream on top of the basic ingredients. Shiratama anmitsu is a type of anmitsu that adds white rice flour dumplings. Fruits anmitsu uses cut fruits such as kiwifruit, cherry, pineapple, and canned mandarin orange.