Tanghulu (Candied Fruit) - Catherine Zhang (2024)

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A thin layer of crunchy sugar coated on sweet, juicy fruit, tanghulu is the trendiest dessert at the moment and now you can make it at home!

Jump to:
  • What is tanghulu?
  • How to make candied fruit
  • How to prevent crystalisation
  • Ingredients
  • Making tanghulu without a candy thermometer
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • 馃摉 Recipe
  • 馃挰 Comments

What is tanghulu?

Tanghulu is a traditional Chinese snack made by skewering fruits, typically strawberries, grapes, or hawthorn berries, on long bamboo sticks, dipping them in a hot sugar syrup, and allowing the syrup to harden into a crispy shell around the fruit. It's known for its sweet and crunchy exterior with juicy fruit inside.

Tanghulu is popular during festivals, especially in northern China, and it's enjoyed as a street food treat. The name "tanghulu" comes from the Chinese words "tang" (sugar) and "hulu" (bottle gourd), referring to the resemblance of the hardened syrup coating to a gourd.

Tanghulu has surged in popularity in recent years, largely due to its captivating presence on social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, and Weibo. With its vibrant colors and glossy exterior, tanghulu makes for visually stunning content that spreads rapidly across these channels, garnering attention from food enthusiasts worldwide.

Tanghulu (Candied Fruit) - Catherine Zhang (1)

How to make candied fruit

  1. In a frypan combine the sugar and water. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves completely.
  2. Once the sugar is dissolved, increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer until the syrup reaches 300F/150C
Tanghulu (Candied Fruit) - Catherine Zhang (2)
Tanghulu (Candied Fruit) - Catherine Zhang (3)
  1. Dip each skewered fruit into the hot sugar mixture, ensuring it's evenly coated. You can use a spoon to help coat the fruit if needed. Allow any excess syrup to drip off.
  2. Once each skewer is coated immediately dunk them into the bowl of ice water. This rapid cooling process helps to harden the sugar glaze quickly. Allow them to sit in the ice water for a minute or two until the glaze is set and hardened.
Tanghulu (Candied Fruit) - Catherine Zhang (4)
Tanghulu (Candied Fruit) - Catherine Zhang (5)

How to prevent crystalisation

One of the biggest issues when making tanghulu is crystallization. Crystallization is when the sugar crystals start joining together, this causes the sugar to get lumpy and grainy. You won't be able to get that clear, glossy finish tanghulu has. Here are some tips to prevent this from happening.

  • Use Clean Equipment: Ensure all utensils, pots, and equipment used in sugar preparation are clean and free of any sugar residue. Even a small amount of sugar left on the sides of the pot can cause crystallization.
  • Add Acid: Adding a small amount of acid, such as lemon juice or cream of tartar, to the sugar syrup can help prevent crystallization by interfering with the formation of sugar crystals.
  • Avoid Stirring: Once the sugar has dissolved in water, avoid stirring the mixture excessively. Stirring can introduce sugar crystals to the solution, leading to crystallization. If stirring is necessary, use a clean utensil and do so gently.
  • Use a Lid: Covering the pot with a lid while the sugar syrup is heating can help prevent crystallization by trapping steam, which helps dissolve any sugar crystals that may have formed on the sides of the pot.
  • Wash Down Crystals: As the sugar syrup heats up, use a wet pastry brush or a clean brush dipped in water to wash down any sugar crystals that may have formed on the sides of the pot. This helps prevent them from falling back into the syrup and causing crystallization.
  • Avoid Disturbing the Solution: Once the sugar syrup reaches the desired temperature, avoid moving or disturbing the pot unnecessarily until it has cooled down. Any sudden movements can cause sugar crystals to form.
Tanghulu (Candied Fruit) - Catherine Zhang (6)

Ingredients

  • Sugar: The primary ingredient in tanghulu, sugar forms the hard candy shell that surrounds the fruit. When heated and melted with water, sugar creates a syrup that, when cooled, hardens into a shiny shell around the fruit.
  • Water: Water is used to dissolve the sugar and create the syrup. It also helps regulate the consistency of the syrup, ensuring it's not too thick or too thin.
  • Fruit: The fruit, such as strawberries, grapes, or kiwi, provides the juicy and flavorful center of the tanghulu. It contrasts with the crunchy sugar coating, providing a burst of freshness and natural sweetness.
  • Skewers: Skewers are used to hold the fruit pieces together and facilitate dipping them into the sugar syrup. They also make it easier to handle and eat the tanghulu.

Making tanghulu without a candy thermometer

Yes, you can make tanghulu without a candy thermometer. While a candy thermometer can help ensure precise temperature control, it's not essential for making tanghulu. Here's how you can make tanghulu without a candy thermometer:

Visual Cues

Instead of relying on specific temperature readings, you can observe visual cues to determine when the sugar syrup is ready. When the sugar has completely dissolved in the water and the mixture comes to a boil, it will start to thicken slightly. The bubbles will start to become very clear and the mixture will be much thicker

Test the Syrup

You can also perform a simple "cold water test" to check the readiness of the syrup. Drop a small amount of the hot syrup into a bowl of cold water. If it forms a hard ball that is crunchy, and doesn't stick to your teeth when you eat it then it's ready

Frequently Asked Questions

What fruits can I use for tanghulu?

Tanghulu can be made with a variety of fruits such as strawberries, grapes, blueberries, kiwi, pineapple chunks, or even small apples. Choose fruits that are firm and can hold up well when coated with sugar syrup. If you are making tanghulu with softer fruits like mango, they must be dried thoroughly and consumed immediately, otherwise they will melt.

Can I use different types of sugar for the syrup?

While white granulated sugar is commonly used for tanghulu syrup, you can experiment with other sugars like rock sugar or raw sugar, brown sugar. Keep in mind that the type of sugar used may affect the color and taste of the tanghulu.

How do I prevent the sugar syrup from crystallizing?

To prevent crystallization, ensure all equipment is clean, avoid stirring excessively once the sugar is dissolved, and consider adding a small amount of acid like lemon juice to the syrup. For more tips, refer to our detailed guide on preventing sugar crystallization.

Can I make tanghulu without an ice bath?

If you don't have an ice bath available, you can still allow the tanghulu to cool and harden at room temperature. Here's how:

  1. Dip and Drain: After coating the fruit skewers with the sugar syrup, allow any excess syrup to drip off the fruit.
  2. Set on Parchment Paper: Place the coated fruit skewers on a parchment-lined baking sheet or plate. Ensure they are spaced out evenly to prevent them from sticking together as they cool.
  3. Room Temperature Cooling: Let the tanghulu cool and harden at room temperature. This process may take a bit longer compared to using an ice bath, but it will eventually set as the sugar syrup cools and solidifies.

Can I make tanghulu ahead of time?

While tanghulu is best enjoyed fresh, you can make it an hour in advance and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. However, be aware that the sugar coating may soften over time, affecting its texture.

Otherwise you can store it in the freezer for up to a week! This storage method would be the same for leftovers.

Can I use wooden skewers instead of bamboo skewers?

Yes, you can use wooden skewers if bamboo skewers are not available. Just make sure they are clean and sturdy enough to hold the fruit pieces without breaking.

Can I customize the tanghulu with additional toppings?

Absolutely! You can customize your tanghulu by adding toppings like sesame seeds, crushed nuts, or even sprinkles to the sugar coating before it hardens for added texture and flavor.

How long does it take for the sugar coating to harden?

The sugar coating usually hardens within a few minutes after dipping the fruit into the syrup and cooling. Placing the tanghulu in ice water can expedite the hardening process.

Is tanghulu suitable for vegans?

Yes, tanghulu made with fruits and sugar syrup is typically vegan-friendly. However, always double-check the ingredients used, especially if you're purchasing tanghulu from a vendor or store.

Tanghulu (Candied Fruit) - Catherine Zhang (7)

Let's Get Cooking

Tanghulu is such an easy recipe to make at home once you get the technique down and you only need a few simple ingredients. Get ready to impress your family and friends with some delicious fruit of your choice covered in a sweet crunchy shell!

If you liked this recipe make sure to leave me a comment and rating down below, I would love to know how you went.

Also, don't forget to tag me on Instagram@catherine.dessertsand hashtag #cattycakes so I can see and share your desserts. Follow me onFacebook,Pinterest,Youtube,andTikTokfor more of my baking creations and updates! Until next time... happy caking!

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Tanghulu (Candied Fruit)

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A thin layer of crunchy sugar coated on sweet, juicy fruit, tanghulu is the trendiest dessert at the moment and now you can make it at home!

  • Author: Catherine Zhang
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6 skewers 1x
  • Category: Candy
  • Method: Easy
  • Cuisine: Chinese

Ingredients

Scale

  • 2 cups granulated sugar

  • 1 cup water

  • 6 long skewers

  • 40 pieces of fruit (strawberries, grapes, kiwi, etc.)

Instructions

  1. Wash and dry the fruit thoroughly. You can use a variety of fruits like strawberries, grapes, kiwi, or any other fruits of your choice. Ensure they are ripe but firm.

  2. Thread the fruits onto the skewers, ensuring they are touching, leaving some space at the end for handling. Mix and match the fruits to create colorful combinations.

  3. Prepare a large bowl of ice water

  4. In a frypan combine the sugar and water. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves completely.

  5. Once the sugar is dissolved, increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer until the syrup reaches 300F/150C,

  6. Dip each skewered fruit into the sugar syrup, ensuring it's evenly coated. You can use a spoon to help coat the fruit if needed. Allow any excess syrup to drip off.

  7. Once each skewer is coated immediately dunk them into the ice bath. This rapid cooling process helps to harden the sugar glaze quickly. Allow them to sit in the ice water for a minute or two until the glaze is set and hardened.

  8. Once the sugar glaze has hardened and the tanghulu is ready, serve them immediately as a delightful sweet treat!

Tanghulu (Candied Fruit) - Catherine Zhang (2024)
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