A favorite snack in Northern China, our tanghulu recipe moves beyond traditional hawthorn berries to include strawberries, blueberries, grapes, and more.
Tanghulu is often mistaken for candied fruit. But unlike traditional candied fruit (a la our candied oranges) tanghulu is not soft. In fact, this popular Chinese street food is known for its hard candy shell. It is often referred to as ice candy or glass candy.
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Please read the entire post for tips and tricks to ensure a perfect recipe every time. And don't forget to tag @peelwithzeal on Instagram so we can admire your creation!
A hard-cracking outer sugar shell and soft fresh fruit on the inside. It is a fun treat you will want to make again and again. And this hard cracking noise has become a tiktok trend. How funny!
I serve tanghulu in the traditional way, on a long bamboo stick. It is a fun addition to any dessert table. I especially love giving tanghulu strawberries on Valentine's Day instead of traditional chocolate-covered strawberries.
The ingredients are simple which is why I think everyone should try making tanghulu at home. For this recipe you need:
- Fruit of your choice
Some people use corn syrup to stabilize their sugar mixture. I don't typically have this on hand, so I always make my tanghulu without corn syrup. If you want to use add ¼ cup of corn syrup.
See recipe card for quantities.
🍓 Best Fruits for Tanghulu
Tanghulu is traditionally made with Chinese hawthorn berries. They are round and red which is why strawberries (stems removed) are the most popular tanghulu fruit.
Raspberries didn't hold up to the weight of the sugar. And blackberries were my favorite flavor-wise, but the bumpy outside made them look less attractive.
The best fruits for tanghulu are firm and have smooth outsides and don't brown easily. My suggestions are strawberries, grapes, blueberries, and sliced kiwi.
⏲️ How to Make Tanghulu
Tanghulu is an easy recipe, but precision is very important to the success of your hard candied fruit. We need to ensure the fruit is dry and the candy reaches the proper temperature before adding the fruit.
Step 1- Prep Your Fruit
Wash and dry your fruit. Trim and slice as needed. I prefer to trip the tops off of strawberries.
The fruit must be dry for the candy coat to adhere properly so don't skip the drying process.
Skewer the fruit, only adding as many pieces of fruit as you can dip into the pot.
Step 2- Make the Hard Candy
Add the sugar and water to your pot. Heat over medium heat until the candy thermometer reaches 275 F degrees. Do not stir the mixture.
The hard crack stage is reached, 300° F so begin testing at 275 F to account for variance in your thermometer. This will take about 8 to10 minutes.
Step 3- Candied the Fruit
When the sugar water mixture has reached the hard crack stage, turn the temperature down slightly to prevent burning. Dip your fruit skewer into the candy mixture, gently turn to coat the fruit.
Work quickly and allow excess sugar to drip off before setting on a silpat or piece of wax paper. The sugar coating should harden almost immediately.
👩🏻🍳 Expert Tips
- To clean your pot, pour the excess sugar mixture into a can and throw away. Add water to the pot and bring to boil. Pour down the sink. Repeat 1 to 2 more times to remove all the hardened sugar.
- For bright red tanghulu strawberries you can add a few drops of red food coloring to your candy mixture before dipping in the strawberries.
Because of how hard cleaning up harden sugar is (see tip above for cleaning your pan), I don't use my reusable skewers for this recipe.
I highly recommend a Silpat. If you don't have one wax paper is the next best choice. And parchment is my least favorite.
I highly recommend a candy thermometer or electric thermometer that goes up past 300 F degrees.
🌡️ Storage and Food Safety
Tanghulu should be eaten the day it is made. The sugar will soften as it is exposed to moisture.
Caution should be used at all times when cooking and handling hot sugar. I like to have a bowl of ice water on hand just in case of accidental exposure. I can dip my hand or finger in immediately.
Children can help prep the fruit but should not be involved in the cooking or pouring of the sugar syrup.
💬Frequently Asked Questions
Dip a clean spoon into your candy syrup and then dip into ice water. If it separates into hard, brittle threads that break when bent you are at the hard crack stage.
Tanghulu should not be sticky, it should be like glass on the outside of the fruit. If your fruit is sticky the sugar mixture is still in the soft candy stage and needs to be heated to 300 F degrees.
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 pound berries or other fruit
- Wash and dry your fruit. Slice if needed. The fruit must be dry for the candy coat to adhere properly.1 pound berries or other fruit
- Skewer fruit, only add as many pieces as you can dip into the pot.
- Add the sugar and water to your pot. Heat over medium heat until the candy thermometer reaches 275 F degrees. Do not stir the mixture. The hard crack stage is reached, 300° F so begin testing at 275 F to account for variance in your thermometer. (see notes). This will take about 10 minutes. Over heating will burn the candy.2 cups granulated sugar, 1 cup water
- When sugar water mixture has reached the desired temperature turn the temperature down slightly to prevent burning. Dip your fruit skewer into the sugar mixture, gently turn to coat the fruit.1 pound berries or other fruit
- Work quickly and allow excess sugar to drip off before setting on your prepared wax paper or silpat. The sugar coating should harden almost immediately.
- To double check the hard candy stage, dip a wooden skewer in the sugar and then dipping it immediately into the cold water. If it hardens the sugar is ready.
- When making tanghulu strawberries vendors often add a few drops of red food coloring to the sugar for a deeper color.
- I highly recommend a silpat or wax paper for cooling the candied fruit. Alternatively, you can use parchment paper but it might stick.