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Chewy Sesame Peanut Candy (Keo Me Dau Phong)

A homemade treat that's perfect for gift-giving.

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.

Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Peanut Candy (Keo Dau Phong) and Asian-Inspired Caramel Apples.


1/2 cup roasted roasted sesame seeds
1/3 cup water + 2 Tbsp tapioca starch
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup unsalted roasted peanuts


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

Tools I Love and Use in My Kitchen

A delicious homemade treat for Valentine's Day!

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Chocolate-Dipped Frozen Bananas

Everything's better dipped in chocolate!

Everything’s better dipped in chocolate!

These Chocolate-Dipped Frozen Bananas are cool, creamy and completely decadent.  As the  warmer months approach, they are the perfect summertime treat.  With this easy recipe, you can make several batches and have them ready to enjoy on those hot days.  Shredded coconut and peanuts are my favorite topping combo but feel free to use any toppings you enjoy.  Use different nuts, dried fruit bits or granola for healthier options.  If you need more of a sugar rush, try crushed cookies or candies.   The topping possibilities are endless.  One thing’s for sure, these will go fast so double up on the recipe!

A few notes on the recipe

Use ripe bananas.  They are creamier in texture after they are frozen.

For the baby bananas I like the manzano bananas.  They’re the perfect size.

I like the taste of coconut oil but you can substitute with any neutral vegetable oil like canola or soybean or use unsalted butter.

For storage, wrap each banana in wax paper and then place in a plastic storage bag.  For the bites, they can all be placed in an air-tight container or bag.

Watch the video below for instructions.


6 baby bananas
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup crushed peanuts
6 lollipop/popsicle sticks or bamboo skewers


Remove skin from the bananas.  Trim off the ends of the bananas.

Insert a stick halfway into each banana.  Repeat until all bananas have sticks.  Place bananas on a tray covered with foil or wax paper.  Freeze bananas for 1 hour.

In a medium bowl, add the chocolate chips and coconut oil.  Microwave on High for 1 minute.  Stir the melted chocolate making sure it’s smooth, creamy and lump-free.  (If the chocolate is not completely melted, return to microwave and cook for another 15 seconds or until chocolate is melted.)

Place the shredded coconut and crushed peanuts into separate small plates.

Holding the stick, dip and swirl each banana in the melted chocolate covering it completely.  Use a spatula to scrape off the excess chocolate or allow it to drip off.

Coat the banana with the coconut.  Then roll the banana in the peanuts.  Return to the tray.  Continue until all bananas are dipped and coated with toppings.

Freeze for another 2 hours.

Yields: 6 servings

The perfect treat when you just need a bite!

The perfect treat when you just need a bite!

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Sweet and Salty Sesame Peanut Topping (Muoi Me Dau Phong)

Toasted sesame seeds, crushed roasted peanuts, a little sugar and a bit of salt–a simple combination that just excites my taste buds.  This delicious topping is commonly enjoyed on various sticky rice (xoi, a staple in the Viet diet) dishes and desserts.  I always have this sweet and savory mixture handy in my cupboard.  2 spoonfuls of this addicting peanut and sesame medley on top of sticky rice or brown rice and I have a quick breakfast or snack.  This recipe is as simple as it gets. If you don’t have a mini-food chopper, you can use a blender or simply put everything inside a plastic resealable bag and then use a bottle or rolling pin to crush the peanuts and mix everything together.  (You can use the bag to store it as well.)

Try it as a topping for grilled meats or sprinkle it on sauces and salads for some extra pizazz!

Below are some recipes you can enjoy with this topping:

Sticky Rice and Hominy
Pandan Sticky Rice
Coconut Sticky Rice and Mango
Quick Sticky Rice and Mung Bean
Sticky Rice Balls in Ginger Syrup
Grilled Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Essential Dipping Sauces

Watch the video below for instructions.


1 cup roasted peanuts
3 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt


Pulse peanuts in food processor or blender for 10 seconds.  Add sugar, salt and toasted sesame seeds and pulse for another 5-6 seconds.

Store unused portions in air-tight container.

Yields: 1 1/4 cup

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