Vietnamese Gummy Fruit Candies INGREDIENTS • 500 gram (1 lb.) fruits of choice – preferably fruits with lots of pulps like pineapples, strawberries, carrots, durians, … • 100 – 140 grams caster sugar (1/2 – 2/3 cup) – varies depending on the sweetness/tartness of your fruits • Vanilla extract (optional) • 30 – 45 ml (2 – 3 tablespoons) sugar syrup (instruction below). You can substitute with honey, corn syrup or golden syrup. • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) lemon juice (optional) • Desiccated coconut, toasted sesame seeds, granulated sugar, … – for candy coating. INSTRUCTION With the amount of listed above ingredients, and also depending on your fruits, you will yield about 250 – 300 gram candied fruits (approx. 1/2 lb). Each candy weighs about 10 – 15 grams (1/2 oz.). This is a very flexible recipe. The method is the same, but you can totally change and have fun with the ingredients to make different types of candies. A few rules of thumb • Sweetener: vary according to your own preference. If you’re not too sure when you’re making candies for the first time, remember – less is more. It’s easier to add more sugar later rather than fixing overly sugary candies. • For pineapples, I use 500 g (1 lb.) pineapples: 100 g (1/2 C) sugar: 2 tablespoons sugar syrup • For carrots, 500 g (1 lb) carrots: 100 g (1/2C) sugar: 4 tablespoons sugar syrup • For kiwis, 500 g (1 lb) kiwis: 130 g (1/2 C plus 2.5 Tbsp) sugar: 2 tablespoons sugar syrup Making sugar syrup • In a saucepan, add 100g (1/2 C) sugar to 100 ml (about 1/2 C minus 1 Tbsp) boiling water and stir occasionally till the sugar dissolves on high heat. • When the water is boiling again, add ½ teaspoon (3ml) lemon juice. • Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Leave to cool at room temperature. • Yield about approximately 160 g (5 – 6 oz.) sugar syrup. • The lemon juice helps to prevent the fruits from oxidizing and turning brown. It also adds a bit of tartness to the candies. • It is very simple to personalize your candied fruits recipe. For example, using different spices and flavour like ginger, cinnamon or vanilla etc.; adding crushed toasted nuts into the candies (peanuts, cashew nuts, almonds …); or simply using different types of coating – coconut flakes, toasted sesame seeds, cocoa powder, … Making the candies
- Cut the fruits into small cubes. Save up the fruit juice that leaks out while being cut to boil with the fruits later. If you want your candies to have a smooth mouth feel, cut it smaller or blend the fruits up.
- In a non-stick pan, add the fruits and the sugar, mix evenly and leave it to macerate (like marinade, but instead of meat it’s fruits) for at least an hour. The sugar will draw out the moisture from the fruits and create a lovely fruity syrup.
- Put the pan on high heat. When the syrup boils in the pan, reduce the heat to medium and keep simmering for about 20 – 30 minutes. If the pan is too dry, you can add some more water, or use the leaked fruit juice earlier. Boiling the fruits in sugar syrup will make the candies chewier and, bonus, allow you to keep them for a longer time. You can add bottled (or better, fresh) fruit juice to introduce more or enhance the flavour of the candies. Try freshly squeezed orange juice with carrots – orange-flavour candied carrots may sound a bit strange but it is an extremely pleasant snack, and healthy too.
- After 20 – 30 minutes of simmering, don’t add any more liquid. Stir the fruit mix occasionally to help the liquid evaporate quicker. The syrup will gradually thicken.
- After 10 – 15 minutes, when the syrup-fruit mixture has thickened considerably, add 1 – 2 tablespoons of your chosen sweetener and stir until the mixture sets almost like a paste. Make sure that you have turned the heat to low at this point, otherwise your fruit mix can burn easily. Don’t dry out the fruit mixture completely – you want to make chewy candies, not hard candies. The syrup will harden as you leave it to cool down, so take the pan off the heat when the fruit paste still has a little bit of moisture.
- Put the fruit paste into a bowl and leave it to cool down slightly until you can touch it – but don’t wait any longer, because once the paste has cooled and set, you won’t be able to shape it. Don’t forget to dab your hands with a bit of water so that the candies won’t stick to your hands. Make small candy balls, or any candy shapes that you desire.
- Finally, coat your candies with your chosen coating. I find that coconut flakes go with almost any flavour.