I shared a brittle version of this candy not too long ago. (Check out the link for my Peanut Candy recipe.) After posting the brittle recipe, I received numerous requests for the chewier version, so here it is–finally. This recipe for Chewy Sesame Peanut candy is softer and more tender for those who don’t like hard candy or fear cracking a tooth on these delights. The Viet version of this candy, Keo Me Xung, is made with only sesame seeds. I love the coupling of sesame seeds and peanuts and modified the traditional recipe. If you’d like to make an all sesame seeds version, just substitute the peanuts for sesame seeds. The rest of the recipe is the same. Feel free to also use any combination of nuts you like. Enjoy!
Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks
Cooking the sugar is the trickiest part of this recipe and you may have to make this a few times before getting the consistency just right. If the sugar is not cooked enough, the candy will be gooey and not hold its shape. Cook the sugar too long and you’ll have brittle instead of a chewy candy. The best ways to tell if the sugar is cooked just right is to: 1) check the color–the syrup should be the color of honey and 2) check the consistency–the syrup should bead off a spoon rather than stream off it indicating it has reached the appropriate thickness. (If you have a candy thermometer that can provide a quick read, the sugar should reach the Firm-Ball Stage, temperature is 245°F – 250°F.)
Be attentive as the syrup nears the 5 minute cooking window as it turns dark very quickly from this point on and can burn quite easily. As soon as the syrup reaches the golden, honey color, add the lemon juice right away. The lemon juice helps to suspend the syrup in its current candy state. Add the lemon juice quickly and be careful as the syrup may splatter.
Stir the tapioca and water mixture before adding to the syrup as the contents tend to settle. Again, as with the lemon juice, pour the mixture quickly into the pan and then stir vigorously. The tapioca starch turns from opaque to translucent when it’s cooked.
For faster cooling, place the candy in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
Store any uneaten candy in an air-tight container. The candy is good for up to 2 weeks.
This candy is a really popular sweet treat for Lunar New Year and you can easily make little goody bags or boxes for gift-giving. Individually wrap the candies using plastic wrap or parchment paper to make tasty little bon bons. Alternatively, use small cookie cutters to cut the candy into fun shapes and then place on mini cupcake liners for cute little treats. As Lunar New Year often falls close to Valentine’s Day, I decided to turn these candies into little V-Day treats.
Add the tapioca starch to 1/3 cup water and stir until mixture is smooth. Set aside for now.
Line a 9×6 inch pan with parchment paper. Drizzle vegetable oil into the pan and then use a brush to coat the paper with the oil. Sprinkle 1/4 cup sesame seeds into the pan. Tilt and gently shake the pan to distribute the sesame seeds making sure to cover the bottom of the pan completely.
Place a small saucepan over High Heat. Add vegetable oil, sugar and water. Stir together dissolving the sugar while bringing the mixture to a boil. (This takes approximately 2 minutes.)
As soon as the syrup starts to boil, stop stirring. Cook the syrup for 5 minutes or until it thickens and turns a light honey color. Reduce the heat to Low and cook for another 1 minute or until the syrup turns a honey color. (Be careful with this step as the sugar cooks very quickly at this point and can get dark and burn if left too long.) As soon as the honey color is reached, quickly add the lemon juice and stir together. Stir the tapioca and water mixture and then pour into the syrup along with the vanilla extract. Stir quickly to combine and cook for another 1 minute. Add the peanuts and mix well with the syrup. Cook for another 1 minute and then turn off the heat.
Pour the hot candy into the pan prepared earlier and spread evenly into the pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup sesame seeds on top. Use a spatula or the back of a spoon to smooth out the top. Allow to cool for 3-4 hours.
To serve, remove the candy from the pan, peel away the paper from the edges, cut off the edges (optional) and then cut into 1×1-inch squares.
Yields: 40 pieces
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