Since I have been sharing Instagram Stories tutorials of many of my favourite childhood treats, I knew I had to share a recipe for these sugared strawberries. This is perhaps the most simple ‘recipe’ of all the childhood snacks and calling it a recipe seems a bit silly. Traditionally, tanghulu is made with mountain hawthorn (山楂) covered in a hard candy coating served on a long bamboo skewer, but nowadays it is common to deviate from the use of hawthorn to other types fruits. I had my first tanghulu (with strawberries) at a summer night market many years back and since then have made it a tradition to get a skewer every summer the night market makes its seasonal return.
The sugar coating is perhaps the most important part of this treat and in order for it to be a true tanghulu, the sugar coating must be extremely crisp and shatter upon the first bite. Tanghulu are sometimes called bingtanghulu, with the word ‘bing’ meaning ‘ice’ and describing the candy coating of this treat. This treat is traditionally served in the wintertime because the heat of summers in China tends to melt the sugar coating. I personally enjoy making these treats in the summertime because strawberries are so fragrant this time of the year. The sugar coating will soften as the strawberries sit and release moisture, so you want to make these as close to serving time as possible.
- 16 strawberries, washed and dried
- 250 g (1 1/4 cup) granulated sugar
- 125 g (1/2 cup) water
- Red food colouring, optional
- Wash strawberries and dry them completely. Moisture will prevent the sugar coating from fully adhering. Once dried, skewer strawberries on bamboo or lollipop sticks.
- Line a large plate or baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a small pot over medium heat, combine sugar and water. Allow the sugar to melt without stirring the mixture.
- As the syrup boils and it starts to turn a very light golden colour (it should read 150C on a candy thermometer, about 8 – 10 minutes over medium heat), turn off the heat. If you are not using a candy thermometer, please use the ‘cold water test.’ When you drizzle some of the hot sugar syrup into a bowl of cold water, the sugar should harden into sugar ribbons that you can break with a ‘snap.’ If the sugar in the cold water is still flexible or does not create the ‘snap,’ the sugar is not ready yet. This sugar is ready to coat the strawberries when the sugar mixture reaches 150C/ if it passes the cold water test. Stir in a few drops of red food colouring now if using.
- Tilt the pot slightly, so more syrup pools on one side of the pot. Dip a strawberry into the syrup and turn the stick gently to cover the strawberry completely. Allow excess syrup to drip off and place sugared strawberry on the baking sheet. Repeat until all the strawberries are sugared.
- Allow the sugar coating to harden completely before removing from the baking sheet, about 10 minutes.
- Serve immediately.