Monaka is a sweets with red bean paste filling sanded with wafers-like skin made from mochi, rice cake. The original monaka is believed to be dried sweets which used dough made from glutinous rice flour mixed with water. The dough was steamed, thinly flattened, cut into round pieces, baked, and made into skin.
In the Edo period (1603-1868), sweets that sands filling with such skin was invented, and after the Meiji period (1868-1912), the present style of monaka started to be made. The origin of the name monaka comes from a rice cracker-like confectionary called monaka-no-tsuki made by a confectionary store in Yoshiwara area of Edo, and the name was abbreviated to monaka.
The way to make present style monaka skin is the same as the original until the dough is thinly flattened. But today, automatic roller is used, and the dough is flattened as thin as few millimetres. The flattened dough will be cut into fixed shape, and will be baked in a special mould.
By baking the outside and inside of the dough at the same time, the starch from the glutinous rice flour rises the dough until it is juts out from the mould, and creates a light and crispy skin. The monaka skin is usually made by professional supplier of Japanese confectionary material called taneya.
Monaka is made in many places across the country, and there are regional monaka sold as souvenir or gift. For example, shiromatsuga-monaka made and sold in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture is advertised as national confection, on local TV commercial, and on advertising sign on busses. Monaka skin is also used to sand ice-cream instead of using wafers, which is called monaka ice, and the portability and preservability is higher than regular lice-cream.