Want a unique and one of the best ways to eat fruit? Tanghulu, candied fruit, is a popular Chinese street food. Made with just about any fruit, this fruit candy is beautiful and delicious!
Also known as bingtang hulu or bing tanghulu, this popular street food is known for its sweet, crunchy shell and is often referred to as ice candy or glass candy. The cracking noise of the first bite is so exciting that it has become a TikTok trend.
The Chinese candied fruit isn't just delightful; it is also straightforward. In 20 minutes, you can have a bowl of mouthwatering candied fruit treats for snacking or serve it as a fruity dessert after dinner.
What Is Tanghulu?
Bingtang hulu is a traditional candied fruit snack that has its origins in Northern China. Originally, it was made by skewering Chinese hawthorn fruit on a long bamboo skewer and dipping it in liquid sugar that hardens into a hard coating. Hawthorn berries have a tarter flavor, which allows a balance when the fruit is immersed in the sugar syrup.
It is a Chinese street food that takes the beauty of fresh fruit. Generally, vendors coat candied fruit with a layer of sugar syrup so that it is glossy and bright when it hardens.
Whether you want a treat for your child or an addictive, shiny dessert on a date, strawberry tanghulu will save the day. Instead of hawthorn fruit, strawberry tanghulu is now more popular. Other fruits like grapes, blueberries, apples, and pineapples also look beautiful and taste great!
Why I Love Tanghulu
- Delicious and beautiful.
- Easy and fun to make.
- Vegan, gluten-free, and oil-free.
- It only takes about 20 minutes from start to finish!
Sugar - 2 cups - White granulated sugar works great for this recipe. Avoid using brown or raw sugar because they give your glaze a brown color, and the sugar coating wouldn't stay clear. If you want a vegan option, swap white sugar with vegan or organic sugar.
Water - 1 cup - Some recipes use water while others don't. For this Strawberry tanghulu recipe, we will use 1 cup of water to aid in initially dissolving the sugar. However, the use of water will slow down the cooking process. You need to be careful not to stir your sugar because it will crystalize and clump up.
Fruit - 1 pound - Strawberries are a common tanghulu choice because of their bright color. In addition, I like to use kiwis, cherries, bananas, or oranges. You can use just about any fruit if the external water content is not too high.
Wash and pat dry fruit, ensuring the fruit is bone dry. Arrange fruit on the wooden skewer. Set aside. Prepare an ice bath. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper for the fruit to dry lying down, or prepare a styrofoam block for the fruit to dry upright.
Place sugar in the pan and top with water. Do NOT stir the sugar and water together. Bring the mixture to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, the hard crack stage.
Dip the wooden skewer in the sugar and twirl as needed to coat the fruit evenly. You might need to tilt the pan to coat the fruit thoroughly. Then dip the fruit into the bowl of ice-cold water for 2 - 3 seconds. Place on the sheet pan to dry. This happens almost immediately. Lay on the baking sheet or upright on a styrofoam block to dry.
Best Fruits for Tanghulu
Tanghulu, Chinese candied fruit, was conventionally made with Chinese hawthorn berries. These are red and round, also known as mountain hawthorn, shanzha, or hawberry. They have a tart flavor that is not too sweet and has a similar texture to an apple. For this reason, fresh strawberries are amongst the most popular choices to work with the tanghulu recipe.
It is better to use smooth fruits on the outside with a firm texture. Moreover, it is best to use fruits that don't go brown quickly for tanghulu. Excellent fruit choices include fresh strawberries, grapes, oranges, mandarins, dragon fruit, tart apple slices, firm kiwi, pineapple chunks, spears, large blackberries, or firm melon chunks.
Even though this easy recipe requires only two ingredients, getting the right consistency can be tricky. To get the best results while preparing Chinese street food, follow these expert tips:
- Candy Thermometer – I recommend using a candy thermometer to achieve the perfect crunch. Between 270f and 300f is the best temperature.
- Bone Dry Fruit- This is an essential tip. The syrup coating will only harden if the fruit is dry.
- Don't Stir the Sugar - Do not stir the sugar-water mixture to avoid crystallization.
- Test the Sugar Water Mixture- If you do not have a thermometer, you can test if the syrup is ready by drizzling the mix in the ice water. If it hardens quickly, you can start dipping the fruit skewers.
- Clean Your Pot- If you want to clean the hardened sugar from the saucepan, add water and bring it to a boil. This will loosen the hardened candy and make the saucepan easy to clean.
Why isn't the tanghulu hardening?
If the candy shell isn't hardening or the sugar isn't set, the sugar syrup is below the hard crack stage. To reach a hard crack, the sugar must be 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Always check the consistency or temperature of the sugar water mixture before dipping the fruit.
Why is it watery?
Most likely, too much water was added, or the mixture was not hot enough. To avoid this, follow the recipe as written.
Why is it crystalizing?
Crystallization happens when more sugar than water or the sugar and water are mixed.
Why is it melting?
Tanghulu needs to be served almost immediately. After about 30 minutes, the sugar will absorb moisture from the fruit. As a result, the hardened syrup coating will dissolve and melt off the fruit. In addition, the syrup might melt if it isn't hot enough or is exposed to high humidity.
Why is it not crunchy?
If your bingtang hulu is sticky and does not have the hard crack crunch, then it means there is too much moisture. To avoid this, ensure your fruit is as dry as possible and the sugar water is at the right temperature before dipping.
Why is it chewy?
You must ensure that the candy shell is hard for this fruit candy recipe. The mix will be chewy if you do not heat it at a high enough temperature. You want a hard crack temperature, and the shell will be a soft crack when you do not reach that temperature. Even though it will set, the chewy consistency will stick to your teeth.
Frequently Asked Questions
Bingtang hulu has a sweet taste that comes with an added fruity sweet flavor. It resembles fruit candy with a satisfying hard candy coating and a juicy fruit burst inside. Chinese candied fruit is a hard fruit candy with a soft center, and some people compare it with a jolly rancher.
Tanghulu is a traditional Northern Chinese snack that has recently gained popularity in Korea. The candied fruit was typically made of skewered shanzha or Chinese Hawthorn covered in hard sugar syrup. Street vendors use a wide range of fruits, such as tomatoes, grapes, cherries, and strawberries, for this crunchy dessert.
Enjoy this treat the same way you would eat a popsicle. Super easy and fun!
You can make this tanghulu recipe without a thermometer; however, you must be vigilant and watch the sugar syrup. The water and sugar mixture needs to boil for 10 minutes to reduce into a thick syrup. To check if the fruit candy recipe is ready, dip a toothpick and instantly dip it in a bowl of iced water. If the sugar syrup is immovable, it means the coating is ready.
Make Ahead and Storing
Making Chinese candied fruit ahead of time is not recommended. Ideally, it would be best if you ate Tanghulu instantly. Leaving it for too long will expose the candied fruit to moisture, making it soft or watery. In addition, when you store or keep tanghulu, the juice from the fruit will break down the hard candy shell.
Tanghulu Candied Fruit Skewers
- 1 pound fruit
- 2 cups white granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- ice water bath
- Prep: Wash and pat dry fruit, ensuring the fruit is bone dry. Arrange fruit on the skewer. Set aside. Prepare a bowl with ice-cold water. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper for the fruit to dry lying down, or prepare a styrofoam block for the fruit to dry upright.1 pound fruit
- Sugar: Place sugar in the pan and top with water. Do NOT stir the sugar and water together. Bring the mixture to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, the hard crack stage.2 cups white granulated sugar, 1 cup water
- Dip: Dip the fruit in the sugar and twirl as needed to coat the fruit evenly. Dip the fruit into the bowl of ice-cold water for 2 - 3 seconds. Place on the sheet pan to dry. This happens almost immediately. Lay on the baking sheet or upright on a styrofoam block to dry.