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Tanghulu is a delicious fruit-based treat that street vendors sell commonly in Northern China. These Chinese candied fruit skewers have been popular in the region for many centuries and their popularity hasn’t waned. In fact, thanks to videos related to tanghulu going viral on TikTok, it is more popular than ever. Naturally then, whether you’ve tried it before and fell in love, or are simply curious you’ll need a tanghulu recipe. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered.

What Is Tanghulu?

Tanghulu as mentioned above is a type of candied fruit from northern China that is typically served on skewers. However, unlike traditional candied fruit, tanghulu will be coated in a hardened sugar syrup. As a result, this leads to the candy coating being hard yet brittle whilst the fruit within remains nice and soft.

Traditionally, these hard candy treats will be made using Chinese hawthorn berries which make them a sweet and sour treat. However, since Chinese (or mountain) hawthorn berries can be difficult to come by, the Chinese haw will often be swapped out for something else in western countries. A popular option being to use the tanghulu method to make candied strawberries.

What Fruits Should You Use To Make Tanghulu?

When it comes to deciding what fruits to use to make tanghulu, you really do have more options than you might initially anticipate. Naturally, the main two that you are most likely to see mentioned are hawthorn berries and strawberries. However, they are certainly not your only options.

Typically when you are making tanghulu near enough any fruit can work, although naturally, some will work better than others. Additionally, in order to have the best results try to use fruits that are less likely to brown easily and have a smooth exterior.

Also, instead of ripe berries, it is best to use berries that are not quite ripe yet. This is because the more juicy and ripe berries will likely weep under the candy shell, meanwhile unripe ones will be more likely to withstand it.

With that in mind, some of the best options you can use for tanghulu are hawthorns, strawberries, blueberries, mandarins, oranges, pineapple chunks and sliced kiwi. Blackberries are also an excellent choice in terms of flavour, although the bumpy exterior may detract from the presentation.

Particularly soft fruits such as raspberries should also be avoided. This is is because they are prone to collapsing due to the weight of the sugar.

Tanghulu Recipe In 10 Easy Steps

Equipment Required For Making Tanghulu

When planning to make tanghulu, there are a few pieces of equipment that will be essential to the process. For some items, there are alternatives that you can use, however, when possible it is best to stick to the original item. The equipment required for making tanghulu is as follows:

  • Heavy-bottomed Saucepan
  • Bamboo Skewers
  • Silpat
  • Candy Thermometer

Saucepan

Near enough any type of heavy-bottomed saucepan can be used when making tanghulu. However, a concern you may have is over the state the hard candy will leave your pan in once cooled. Naturally, there when the candy hardens it can be quite difficult to remove from your cookware.

Fortunately, though, there is an effective method for doing so. To remove any hardened candy from your saucepan pour any excess candy into a disposable container and throw it away. Following which add water to your pan and boil it over the stove to loosen the candy which can then be disposed of. When repeated a few times this method should leave your pan as good as new.

Bamboo Skewers

Due to the fact that the hardened candy tends to stick to everything it is best to use bamboo skewers rather than reusable ones. This is because cleaning them can be quite difficult, even if adopting the method mentioned above for saucepans.

Tanghulu Recipe In 10 Easy Steps

Silpat

A silpat is essentially a nonstick cooking surface that is used to line a baking sheet. The effect is similar to that of a parchment-lined baking sheet, although a silpat is reusable. 

Using silpats is recommended over parchment paper in this instance because the sugar mixture used to cover your candied fruit is likely to stick to parchment paper. As a result, when you remove the tanghulu the paper will rip and stay stuck to it which won’t be particularly appetising.

If though you don’t have silpat then another option is to use wax paper. However, if you only have parchment paper then using a nonstick pan spray on it will help prevent the tanghulu from sticking. 

Candy Thermometer

A candy thermometer (or sugar/jam thermometer as it’s also known) is a vitally important piece of equipment when making tanghulu. This is because in order to achieve the hard but brittle consistency desired for the sugar coating it must be heated to a temperature range of 300°F to 315°F (or approximately 150°C to 160°C).

These types are perfect for helping you accurately gauge when your sugar syrup has reached the appropriate temperature. This is because they can withstand incredibly high temperatures and keep you safe from scalding burns that hot sugar water mixture may inflict.

If however, you can’t get a candy thermometer then there is another way to check when the candy syrup is ready to make your tanghulu strawberries. This is less precise but it will still work quite effectively. 

This other method simply requires you to dip a spoon in ice-cold water and then immediately into the sugar syrup mixture. If when you do so, the syrup immediately hardens around the spoon then it has reached the hard crack stage and is therefore at the correct temperature.

Escali AHC1 NSF Certified Candy/Deep Fry/Confection Thermometer with Extra Dial, 5.5

Ingredients For Making Tanghulu

The list of ingredients used for making tanghulu is quite simple really as there are only three that are truly essential. That said though, a couple of additional ingredients, whilst not essential can help to make the process easier and potentially improve the overall presentation. To make tanghulu, the following ingredients will be needed:

  • A pound of berries or your fruit of choice. These will make for the foundation of your tanghulu. Candied strawberries are a popular option but there are other good choices as mentioned above 
  • One cup of water. This will be an essential part of your sugar mixture.
  • Two cups of granulated sugar. This will be another essential ingredient for your sugar mixture.
  • A quarter cup of honey or corn syrup (optional). This can be added to your sugar syrup to help stabilise the mixture and prevent it from crystalising too quickly, although this is often not necessary.
  • A few drops of food colouring (optional). If you want the colours of your tanghulu to really pop then a bit of food colouring can help accomplish this goal. When doing so it is advisable to match the food dye with that of the fruit chosen to enhance the colour already present. 

Tanghulu Recipe In 10 Easy Steps

How To Make Tanghulu

As shown with the ingredients list above, part of the beauty of this recipe is how simple it is. However, this isn’t just because of the limited list of ingredients required for making tanghulu. No the method itself for making them is just as simple and foolproof. With that in mind In order to make tanghulu follow the steps below:

  1. Before beginning it is advisable to prepare a bath of ice and water. This is because the sugar mixture will stick to skin and potentially cause severe burns if there is an accident. An ice bath helps prevent this though as it gives you a way to quickly cool the mixture on your hand.
  2. Wash and thoroughly dry your fruit. This is crucial because if the fruit is damp then the sugar coating will not adhere to your candied fruit properly.
  3. Chop or slice fruit where necessary such as the tops of strawberries for example. Following which skewer the fruit with your bamboo skewers, ensuring that there is plenty of space to safely dip them into the sugar syrup without burning yourself.
  4. In your saucepan combine the water and granulated sugar. Additionally, if using food colouring and honey/corn syrup then also add these. Without stirring, heat these ingredients over a medium-high heat.
  5. Once it starts boiling insert your thermometer into the mixture. Once it reaches a temperature range of 300°F to 315°F (or approximately 150°C to 160°C) then it will be at the hard crack stage.
  6. Once the correct temperature has been reached turn the temperature down to medium to prevent burning. 
  7. Lay out your silpat covered baking sheet on a nearby countertop.
  8. Begin dipping your fruit skewers into the sugar coating mixture. When doing so rotate them in the pan to ensure complete immersion and coverage, you may have to tilt the pan slightly to accomplish this.
  9. Allow any excess syrup to drip back into the pan and then rest your tanghulu skewers on the silpat. Once placed they will soon begin to harden.
  10. Allow the tanghulu to harden and cool completely. Following which they will be ready to eat.

Tanghulu Recipe In 10 Easy Steps

Answered: How Do You Make Tanghulu?

With that in mind, whether you are fascinated by the TikToks, find that the wonderful cracking sound good for ASMR, or just simply fancy a skewered fruit snack, you’re all set.

The process is very simple and whilst the nutrition calories are about on average for any other sweet treat it is at least as nutritious and well as being delicious. So, now you know how to make tanghulu, it’s time to start.

FAQ – Tanghulu Fruit Recipe

What Is Tanghulu Made Of?

Tanghulu is made from skewered fruit dipped in a simple sugar syrup made from water and granulated sugar. Traditionally Chinese hawthorns will be used, however, strawberries and a wide variety of other fruits can also be made into tanghulu.

Is Tanghulu Safe To Eat?

Tanghulu is safe to eat and is often eaten as street food in Northern China. The hawthorns traditionally used in these hard candied fruits are quite sour though and as such are also used in jams or wines.

Why Is My Tanghulu Sticky?

The reason for this is that there is too much moisture in your candy. This is likely as a result of not heating the syrup mixture to the correct temperature or not drying the fruit properly before dipping.

What Fruits Taste Good Candied?

A wide variety of fruits can be used for candying. Some examples include hawthorns, strawberries, blueberries, mandarins, oranges, pineapple chunks, sliced kiwi and blackberries.

How Do You Eat Tanghulu?

Tanghulu is popular in Chinese snack cuisine and is typically served on a bamboo skewer. This means it can be eaten in a similar way to something like a kebab.