This easy recipe for beloved Chinese street food, tanghulu, couldn't be more fun or tasty. Skewered fresh fruit on bamboo sticks coated in simple sugar syrup and then set to harden. The candied outer shell is great crunchy and cracks open when you bit into it. The sweet shell is paired with tart or sweet fruits like strawberries, oranges, pineapple, and more.
Prep the fruit by pushing a bamboo skewer through each piece so the fruit is now on the very tip of the stick. I suggest one strawberry or orange segment per stick or 2 grapes per stick. Set aside.
Prep a large platter or baking sheet with parchment paper. You will need this to place the dipped fruit on to set (but not stick) for a few minutes.
To a small or medium-sized saucepan clip on a candy thermometer. Add the sugar and water. Stir to dissolve. Turn the stove on medium-high heat to bring the mixture to a boil.
Over the next 5-10 minutes watch the sugar mixture carefully. Stir occasionally as the sugar mixture comes to high heat and begins to bubble and thicken.
You want to sugar to reach the hard-crack stage. That will be between 295-305°. Many thermometers have a hard crack stage at just above 300. I find if you take this off at 295 or even a bit more - it will be fine. If you go over 300° this delicate sugar mix will crystallize so do not leave this unattended and watch it. You for sure should not go to 305!
As soon as it reaches the right temperature, turn off the heat. Move the pot from the burner to a heat-safe surface.
Now it is time to DIP & ROLL the fresh skewers. Tilt the saucepan and dip the fruit into the sugar mixture. Rotate the fruit in the liquid to coat all sides. Once coated place on the parchment paper.
Work QUICKLY so the sugar does not cool too much (it will start to crystallize) , dip, roll, and set aside on the parchment paper.
Once all the fruit is coated, let them set up so the candy-coating is hard. If you tap on the fruit lightly, it should be firm and sound like a tap or knock on it.