This tanghulu recipe tastes exactly like the classic candied fruit dessert! Ready in less than 10 minutes, it’s easy to customize and tastes delicious!
Table of Contents
What is Tanghulu?
Famous street food popular in China and other Asian countries, tanghulu features bite-sized fruit coated in sugar syrup that hardens once dry and forms a crunchy shell. It’s similar to candied fruit but crisp and crunchy on the outside and makes the best treat.
Here are some reasons why you’ll love this recipe:
- Simple ingredients. All you need is water, fruit, and other easily accessible ingredients to make this sweet snack.
- Quick and easy. Honestly, the hard part is waiting for the candy to firm up, but even then, it’s just a few minutes.
- They are easy to customize: Like candy grapes, It’s easy to customize as you can use any berries, such as strawberries, raspberries, etc.
- Perfect to get the family involved. This is such a fun dessert to get the little ones involved in, from the skewering of the fruits to the dipping into the candy syrup.
Besides fruit and the sugar syrup mixture, there isn’t much else that goes into making this recipe. Here is what you’ll need:
- Fruits. I always use strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries (mostly for aesthetics) and two or three other fruits. This time, I used kiwi fruit, green grapes, and purple grapes.
- Granulated sugar. It’s the primary base for sugar syrup. Brown sugar and coconut sugar also work.
- Water. To help make the syrup.
- Light corn syrup and honey. You need some kind of syrup to bind with the sugar and create the hard candy shell. I found maple syrup too finicky, and brown rice syrup to stodgy. A combination of these two liquid sweeteners is the perfect ratio of sugar to achieve the perfect consistency.
Find the printable recipe with measurements below.
How to make tanghulu
Step 1- Prep the basics. Start by lining a baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside. Wash and dry the grapes and strawberries. Peel the mandarin and remove as much pith as possible.
Step 2- Make sugar syrup. Add sugar, corn syrup, honey, and ¼ cup of water to a saucepan and stir gently. Boil the mixture and continue heating and medium-high heat until the syrup reaches 300F. Check the temperature with a candy thermometer.
Step 3- Skewer the fruit. Then, skewer the fruit without twisting any pieces. I like to keep the fruit separate, but you can use a variety of mixed ones on each skewer.
Step 4- coat the fruit with sugar syrup. When the syrup is ready, remove the pan from the heat. Dip the fruit into the sugar mixture to coat it completely. Once done, shake the excess syrup, put the skewer on the lined baking sheet, and allow to harden it for 10 minutes. Repeat the same process with each skewer.
Recipe tips and variations
- Use fresh and firm fruit. The key to making perfect tanghulu is to use firm fruit that is not overly ripe. This will ensure that the fruit holds its shape and doesn’t become mushy when coated with the syrup.
- Choose firm skewers. Use sturdy bamboo skewers long enough to hold several pieces of fruit without breaking. I like to soak my skewers for about 30 minutes beforehand to make them a little more sturdy.
- Work quickly. Once the syrup is ready, move quickly to coat the fruit with the hot mixture before it begins to harden. This will ensure the syrup doesn’t cool down and become too thick, which makes coating the fruit easier.
- Use a candy thermometer. Sure, you can gauge by sight, but I find a candy thermometer to be a life saver to test the hot sugar syrup (we don’t want hardened sugar syrup!).
- Fruit ideas. As mentioned earlier, any fruit typically works. Some ideas include pineapple, hawthorn berries, apples, and oranges.
To store: Leftovers must be stored in the refrigerator, covered in an airtight container. They will keep well for up to two weeks. Let them sit at room temperature before enjoying them.
To freeze: Place the skewers in a ziplock bag and store them in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Frequently asked questions
This recipe has an overall sweet flavor but it can change depending on which fruit you choose to glaze.
If you heat the sugar syrup at very low temperatures, you risk the sugar coating to be chewy. To prevent this from happening, always cook the syrup at medium-high heat.
If you under-cook the syrup, there is a risk of it remaining sticky and not hard (like toffee). To ensure this doesn’t happen, ensure the syrup reaches a hard crack (300F).
No, tanghulu will not melt, even at warmer temperatures.
More fruity desserts to try
- Raspberry bars-
- Strawberry cookies-
- Line a plate with parchment paper and set it aside.
- Add the sugar, water, light corn syrup, and honey in a small saucepan and place it over high heat. Bring it to a boil then reduce it to medium heat and let everything simmer until it reaches a temperature of 300F. Remove the syrup from the heat.
- Skewer the fruit and moving quickly, dip the fruit in the syrup until completely coated. Place the syrup-covered fruit on the lined plate and let it harden.
Recipe originally published December 2022, but updated to include new information for your benefit.
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