Tanghulu (also called bingtanghulu) is candy-coated fruit on a skewer. Popular in Asia, the sweet treat is often sold at marketplaces or from street vendors.
Traditionally made with hawthorn berries (which are comparable to crab apples), the skewered fruit is dipped in a sugar syrup that hardens to candy coat the fruit, creating a gorgeous glassy shell that shatters upon biting it.
Full of sweet, fruity flavors and juicy, crunchy textures, tanghulu is both fun to eat and easy to make. With three simple ingredients (sugar, water and fruit), and a candy thermometer, you’ll be a tanghulu master in no time.
This recipe calls for strawberries; however, a variety of fruit can be used. I recommend grapes, blueberries or mandarins. The coating does not adhere well to fleshy fruits like pineapple, kiwi or watermelon.
Prep work is key here, as you’ll want to have your fruits dry, skewered and ready for when the sugar reaches 300 degrees. That’s the “hard crack” stage in candy making, and it will start to crystallize as it cools, so you’ll want to be prepared and work quickly.
Long bamboo skewers work best for this, as the sugar syrup is extremely hot, so use caution when dipping them.
The candy shell will harden as it cools, and tanghulu is best served right away or within the hour. The fruits will release moisture and break down the crunchy sugar coating, making them soft and sticky, so it’s definitely not a treat that can be made in advance.
To get the hardened sugar out of your pan, filling it with water and bringing it to a boil will dissolve the sugar, making cleanup a breeze.
1 pound strawberries and/or variety of fruits
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silicon mat or parchment paper and set aside.
Wash and completely dry the strawberries/fruits. Once dried, skewer the strawberries/fruits on bamboo or lollipop sticks. I recommend one strawberry per skewer and up to three small fruits together (blueberries or grapes).
Combine the water and sugar in a small pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil and boil until the syrup reaches 300 degrees on a candy thermometer.
Remove from the heat. Carefully tilt the pan so the syrup pools on one side. Working with one skewer at a time, dip and rotate the fruit in the syrup until completely coated.
Gently shake the skewer over the pan to allow excess syrup to drip off, and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining skewers.
Allow the sugar coating to cool and create the hard shell. Serve immediately.
Audrey Alfaro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.