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Tanghulu – Delicious 3 Ingredient Recipe 

 April 8, 2022

Written By Kristina

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Fruit is the candy of nature. It has all the ingredients to help settle your sweet tooth without compromising your health.

But if you're trying to get away with serving fruit by itself at the dessert table, you may want to consider a recipe that kicks things up a notch.

Tanghulu is a traditional Chinese candy that does just that. It's a skewer of whole fruits, dipped in a sugar syrup and then left to harden.

Traditionally, it was used to sweeten the less-sweet hawthorne berries, but it's now used with all sorts of fruit.

All it takes are 3 ingredients and some heat.

strawberry tanghulu

Tanghulu Pronunciation


-tong-hoo-loo (in english)
-taang-hoo-loo (in languages where the "a" makes the "ahh" sound)

strawberry tanghulu

Fruit Suggestions:


We encourage you to go crazy here and experiment with any fruits available to you. However, here are some fruits the culinary community has already had success with.

  • Cherries
  • Strawberries
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Grapes
  • Kiwifruit
  • Bananas 
strawberries

Equipment Needed

  • Medium sauce pan
  • Candy thermometer (optional)
  • Bamboo skewers
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper


Ingredients Needed

  • Strawberries (or other fruit)
  • Cane sugar (2 cup)
  • Water (1 cup)


Steps

Ingredients for tanghulu

1) Poke your strawberries from the green end with the bamboo skewers. Puncture 3/4 of the way through the strawberry and place on a plate. (the sugar solution will heat very quickly. That's why it's best to prepare the fruit beforehand).

poking the strawberry

2) Prepare your baking sheet lined with parchment paper and set aside

3) Mix water and sugar in your medium sauce pan.

sugar and water mixture

4) Turn your stove to medium-high heat and bring mixture to a boil

5) Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium (this will lessen the chance of piping hot syrup bubbles from splashing outside the cooking zone)

boiling sugar water mixture

6) If you have a candy thermometer, shoot for a temperature between 275-300°F (but no higher!). 275°F will result in a pleasant, light-yellowish hue and offer some slight caramel characteristics. 300°F will be slightly darker and provide something between caramel and burnt sugar.

7) If you don't have a candy thermometer, fill a bowl with cold water. Once you think the syrup is approaching temperature, take a small scoop of syrup with a bamboo skewer and quickly dip it into the bowl of cold water. If the syrup quickly hardens, you're within range. If it doesn't, give it 30 seconds and try again.

8) Once the bubbles have settled, tip the pan to the side (to get better depth) and dip your skewered fruit into the syrup 7/8ths of the way in. Roll the fruit around (leaving the greens out). Once the fruit is covered, lift up the fruit and allow any loose syrup to drip off. Allow the fruit to harden for a few seconds and then place it on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

dipping strawberry in sugar syrup

10) Let cool for a minute or so and enjoy!

strawberry tanghulu

Crowd Pleasing Moments

While presenting, take one of the candied fruits and hit it with the back of a spoon. The fruit will have a delicate sheet of what looks like broken glass around it, providing a scene that is rarely found in the culinary world. We got some ohhhs and ahhhhs.

strawberry tanghulu

Strawberry Tanghulu

Tanghulu is a candied fruit dish native to Northern China. It's unbelievably easy to make and yet surprisingly tasty. For reasons of simplicity, we've created strawberry tanghulu but you can mimic this process to create any fruit tanghulu. For inspiration, strawberries, grapes and oranges are the most common fruits used. We encourage you to push the boundaries and create something unique.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 4 People

Equipment

  • Medium sauce pan
  • Candy thermometer (optional)
  • Bamboo skewers
  • Baking Sheet
  • Parchment Paper

Ingredients
  

  • Strawberries or other fruit
  • 2 cup Cane sugar
  • 1 cup Water

Instructions
 

  • Poke your strawberries from the green end with the bamboo skewers. Puncture 3/4 of the way through the strawberry and place on a plate. (the sugar solution will heat very quickly. That's why it's best to prepare the fruit beforehand).
  • Prepare your baking sheet lined with parchment paper and set aside
  • Mix water and sugar in your medium sauce pan.
  • Turn your stove to medium-high heat and bring mixture to a boil
  • Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium (this will lessen the chance of piping hot syrup bubbles from splashing outside the cooking zone)
  • If you have a candy thermometer, shoot for a temperature between 275-300°F (but no higher!). 275°F will result in a pleasant, light-yellowish hue and offer some slight caramel characteristics. 300°F will be slightly darker and provide something between caramel and burnt sugar.
  • If you don't have a candy thermometer, fill a bowl with cold water. Once you think the syrup is approaching temperature, take a small scoop of syrup with a bamboo skewer and quickly dip it into the bowl of cold water. If the syrup quickly hardens, you're within range. If it doesn't, give it 30 seconds and try again.
  • Once the bubbles have settled, tip the pan to the side (to get better depth) and dip your skewered fruit into the syrup 7/8ths of the way in. Roll the fruit around (leaving the greens out). Once the fruit is covered, lift up the fruit and allow any loose syrup to drip off. Allow the fruit to harden for a few seconds and then place it on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
  • Let cool for a minute or so and enjoy!

Video

Keyword bingtanghulu recipe, candied fruit, candied strawberries, fruit tanghulu, strawberry tanghulu, tanghulu, tanghulu recipe
strawberry tanghulu

Frequently Asked Questions

How to store tanghulu

Tanghulu is best enjoyed the same day it's made. However, if you want to store candied fruit, we suggest placing them in an airtight container in the fridge.


How much water and sugar is used for tanghulu?

The ratio of water to sugar is 1:2. So for every 2 cups of sugar, you'll need 1 cup of water. This ratio stands as you go up or down in quantities.


How to make tanghulu without a thermometer

If you don't have a candy thermometer, no problem! Fill a bowl with cold water. Once you think the syrup is approaching temperature, take a small scoop of syrup with a bamboo skewer and quickly dip it into the bowl of cold water. If the syrup quickly hardens, you're within range.


Can you make tanghulu with corn syrup?

Corn syrup is used in the traditional recipe but we found it unnecessary. If you'd like to try tanghulu with corn syrup, you'll find most recipes include it.


Can you make tanghulu in the microwave?

You can, but we don't recommend it. The process is pretty fast and you run the risk of overcooking (and ruining) your tanghulu. Here's a video to show you the steps.


How to clean burnt sugar from a sauce pan

If you went a little overboard with the heat, burnt sugar can seem impossible to clean. Here's a method to quickly take care of the mess.

How long does tanghulu take to boil?

This will depend on your stove and the quantity of ingredients you use. With two cups of sugar and one cup of water, it was boiling in around 5 minutes.

Can you make tanghulu with brown sugar?

We haven't experimented with this YET, but here is a video explaining someone else's experience. 

Conclusion

Making tanghulu is a fun process that's great for a night in with friends or family.

The best part is, once you have the syrup mixture down, you can experiment with different fruits and flavors. So what are you waiting for? Go get your skewers and sugar ready!

Cheers,

Kristina

About the author

Kristina is a world-traveling foodie whose mission is to explore and recreate the most delicious cuisine. While still an avid traveler, Kristina has taken culinary refuge in the great country of the Czech Republic. When she isn't nannying or exploring the beautiful city of Prague, she's sharing her favorite recipes on the web.

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