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Chocolate Flan Cake

So Amazing Chocolate Flan Cake | recipe from runawayrice.com

This luscious Chocolate Flan Cake is a truly unique dessert–the first is a hybrid of silky flan and creamy cheesecake.  The second layer is a rich and dense chocolate cake, almost like a brownie.  The combination of the two layers with the caramel sauce on top is a cake that is decadent, creamy and every sugar addict’s dream.  With the holidays coming up, I recommend you make this cake and share some of it, otherwise you’ll end up eating the entire cake yourself.  Enjoy!

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

What is the magic behind this cake that causes the layers to get switched after it’s baked?  It’s the combination of ingredients, weight difference of the batters and use of the water bath.  With that said, please don’t alter this recipe too much.  The chocolate layer is really thick on purpose so it doesn’t get combined with the flan layer when the mixture is poured on top.  Also, don’t skip the water bath.  It is needed to evenly heat the chocolate layer so it can float to the top.

Please be very careful when cooking sugar.  It is extremely hot.  Handle it with care–stand back when pouring it into the cake pan and do not let it touch your skin.  If you’re nervous about making the caramel sauce, buy the ready-to-eat sauce at the store.  It’s usually stocked with the ice cream cones and other ice cream toppings.

If you want to make this cake healthier, try the following:  used fat-free condensed milk or evaporated milk, low-fat cream cheese, reduced-fat milk and cut back on the sugar.

Make your own buttermilk by combining 1/2 cup milk + 1 tsp lemon juice. Let stand for 15 minutes. Combine together add as per the recipe.

This is a very thick cake so it may take longer than 1 1/2 hours to bake.  Use a toothpick to check for doneness.  If the cake is still moist, bake for another 10 minutes and then check again.

This cake tastes best well-chilled so don’t rush this process.  Plan to make the cake a day or so ahead if serving for a party or gathering.

Refrigerate any leftover cake and consume within the week.

Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Vietnamese Custard (Banh Flan) or Cotton Cheesecake / Japanese Cheesecake.

Ingredients

Caramel Sauce
2/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp water
1 tsp lemon juice

Chocolate Cake
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Flan Cake
8 oz cream cheese
6 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
2-14 oz cans sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Other Items
non-stick cooking spray
12-cup bundt cake pan

Directions

Making the Caramel Sauce:  Add the sugar and water into a small saucepan.  Cook on Low until the sugar is melted.  Swirl the syrup in the pan every minute.  When the syrup starts to bubble, add the lemon juice.  Continue cooking the syrup and swirling in the pan until it starts to turn a honey color, approximately 5 minutes.  Turn off the heat, lift the pan from the stove and swirl the syrup in the pan for another 1 minute allowing the syrup to deepened in color.  Transfer the saucepan to a cool burner.

Spray the bundt cake pan with non-stick cooking spray making sure to cover it completely and evenly.

Carefully pour the caramel sauce into the cake pan.  Tilt the pan slightly to distribute the sauce around the pan.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Making the Chocolate Cake:  In a microwave-safe bowl, add the butter and chocolate chips.  Microwave on High for 1 minute.  Stir the mixture.  Microwave on High for 30 seconds.  Combine the mixture together making a smooth and creamy chocolate sauce.

In a separate bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda and salt.  Set aside for now.

Add the eggs, vanilla extract and buttermilk to the chocolate sauce.  Using an electric hand mixer, mix on Low speed for 30 seconds or until well-combined.

Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix on Low for 1 minute or until well-combined.  Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix together making sure all the dry ingredients are completely incorporated.

Making the Flan Cake:  Add the cream cheese, whole eggs and egg yolks into a blender.  Blend on Medium speed until mixture is smooth, approximately 30-40 seconds.  Add the sweetened condensed milk, milk and vanilla extract.  Blend on Medium speed until well-combined, approximately 30 seconds.

Transfer the chocolate cake batter into the bundt pan.  Use a spatula to spread the batter into an even layer.

Slowly pour the flan cake mixture on top of the chocolate cake batter.  Leave some room at the top of the pan for the cake to rise.

Cover the cake pan with foil and wrap it securely.

Fill a large baking pan halfway with hot water and place into the oven.  Place the cake pan in the water bath.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours.  Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the cake and it should come out clean.

Remove the cake pan from the water bath and allow to cool for at least 1 hour.

Cover the cake with foil and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.  Overnight is best.

Removing the cake:  Fill a large baking dish with hot water.  Place the cake pan in the water bath for 2 minutes.  During this time, run a knife around the cake, separating it from the pan.  Invert a cake plate over the cake pan and then flip it over.  Jiggle the cake pan a few times to loosen the cake.

Serve the cake with more caramel sauce or whipped cream.  Optionally, top with fresh fruit or nuts.

Yields: 8-10 servings

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Something magical happens when you bake this cake and the taste is simply amazing. This is a must-try!!

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Sweet and Sour Pork Ribs (Suon Xao Chua Ngot)

Tender Pork Spare Ribs in a Sweet and Sour Sauce--this dish is amazingly good and so simple to make!

This dish of pork spare ribs cooked with a zesty sweet and sour sauce, bell peppers and sweet onions is a wonderfully comforting and satisfying.  It’s easy to make and you can serve this delicious stir-fry over rice for a simple meal or pair with a hearty soup for a truly belly-warming Vietnamese meal.  Enjoy!

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

The best type of ribs for this recipe is the pork rib tips–meaty sections attached to the lower end of the spare ribs.  These ribs are more cartilage than bone and the meat is nice and tender.  If you can only get the spare ribs, these are fine too.

Purchase ribs that are cross cut or ask your butcher to cut for you.  If all you can find is a rack of ribs, just chop them into smaller sections using a meat cleaver.

I am pretty thorough about preparing the ribs and wash them with salt and then parboil to remove the blood and marrow.  These steps help to reduce the smell that is common with pork bones.  If you don’t mind the porky “aroma” or looking to save some time, you can skip these steps.

If you would like more of a sauce for dipping or drizzling over rice, skip the corn starch and add 1/2 cup water to the sweet and sour sauce.

Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Asian-Style Beef Short Ribs (Suon Nuong) and Beef Shank and Pickled Mustard Greens Soup (Canh Dua Cai Chua Bap Bo).

Ingredients

1 1/2 lb pork rib tips or spare ribs
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 tsp thick soy sauce
1 1/2 cups coconut water
1/2 medium sweet onion
2 garlic cloves
1/2 green bell pepper
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 yellow bell pepper
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp tomato paste
6 oz pineapple orange juice
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 Tbsp corn starch
1/2 Tbsp fish sauce
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Directions

Place the ribs into a large bowl and sprinkle with 2 tsp salt.  Rub the salt onto the meat.  Rinse the ribs with cool water washing off the salt.

Trim off any visible fat and then cut the ribs into 2-inch sections.  Place the meat into a large pot along with 1 tsp salt.  Fill the pot with water covering the ribs completely.

Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil over High Heat.  Reduce the heat to Low.  Skim off the foam and discard.  Cook on Low for 5 minutes.

Transfer the ribs into a colander and rinse with cool water.  Return the ribs to a clean pot.  Add the thick soy sauce and mix well.  Add the coconut water and just enough water to cover the ribs.  Cover the pot and bring to a boil over High Heat.  Reduce the heat to Low and simmer for 20 minutes or until the meat is tender.

Mince the garlic.  Cut the bell peppers and onions into chunks.

In a measuring cup, combine the pineapple orange juice, rice vinegar, sugar, and corn starch.

Heat a large wok over Medium High heat and add 1 tsp vegetable oil.  Add half of the minced garlic and stir-fry for 10 seconds.  Add the vegetables and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes or until they just start to soften.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside for now.

Adjust the heat to Medium.  Add 1 tsp vegetable oil, the remaining minced garlic and the tomato paste.  Stir-fry for 15 seconds.  Stir the juice mixture and pour into the wok.  Mix together.  Add the ribs and toss with the sauce, cooking for 2 minutes.  Add the vegetables and fish sauce and stir-fry for another 2 minutes.  Top with freshly ground black pepper.

Garnish with chopped green onions and toasted sesame seeds.  Serve while hot!

Yields:  4 servings

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Sweet and Sour Pork Spare Ribs | recipe from runwayrice.com

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Steamed Layer Cake (Banh Da Lon)

Steamed Layer Cake (Banh Da Lon) - These snack-sized bites are so hard to resist! | recipe from runawayrice.comMildly sweet with a chewy and sticky texture, this scrumptious steamed layer cake is a popular sweet treat that can be found in almost every Vietnamese bakery and grocery store.  The cake has such visual appeal with its vivid green and yellow layers and if you’ve ever wondered how this cake is made, wonder no more friends!  This post takes you through the recipe step-by-step and it’s really easy.  In addition, I share all the recipe tips and tricks so you can make this cake successfully every time.  Before trying the recipe, please read the below and watch the video.  Enjoy!

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

The steaming technique is very important in this recipe.  Unlike some recipes where you try to generate as much steam as possible, this recipe is just the opposite.  The steam is gentle but constant.  Start by filling the steamer basin just half-way with water.  After bringing the water to a rapid boil, reduce the heat to Low for the duration of the steaming. Too much heat and steam will cause the cake to bubble and blister and become tough.  If you see the bubbles in the cake, reduce the heat.

Removing the lid throughout the cooking process to release the steam is a trick for getting a nice, smooth texture.

Ideally have a cake pan that just fits your steamer.  If the pan is really small in relation to the steamer and there is too much steam circulating, the cake may develop some bubbles.  It’s not the end of the world.  The cake will still taste delicious and most of the bubbles will go away once the cake cools.

Stir the batter before making each layer.  The green layer has a tendency to settle so make sure to mix it really well.

This recipe accommodates a 9-inch x 1.5-inch high round cake pan.  If you have a slightly larger cake pan, you can add more water or coconut milk to stretch the batters.

Check to see if a layer is done by lightly touching the cake with the back of a spoon.  If no batter sticks to the spoon, the cake is done.  If any batter sticks to the spoon, steam for another minute and then check again.  Below are the approximate steam times for each layer:

  • Layer 1 Green – 10 minutes
  • Layer 2 Yellow – 10 minutes
  • Layer 3 Green – 12 minutes
  • Layer 4 Yellow – 14 minutes
  • Layer 5 Green – 15 minutes

For the mini muffin pans, I make just 3 layers.  Use 1 tsp of green batter and 1 1/2 tsp of yellow batter.  The steam times are:

  • Layer 1 Green – 2 minutes
  • Layer 2 Yellow – 3 minutes
  • Layer 3 Green – 5 minutes

Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may like: Tapioca and Mung Bean Cake (Banh Xu Xe/Banh Phu The)

Ingredients

Green Layer
1 1/2 cups tapioca starch
1/4 cup rice flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups water
1/4 tsp Pandan paste
1/4 tsp vegetable oil

Yellow Layer
1/2 cup peeled split mung bean
1/8 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups water
3/4 cup tapioca starch
2 Tbsp rice flour
3/4 cup sugar
4 oz coconut milk
2 drops yellow food coloring

Directions

Wash the mung bean by rinsing with cool water 3 times.  Cover the beans with hot water and let soak for 2 hours.

Rinse the beans with cool water again and drain well.

Transfer the beans into a saucepan along with the salt and 1 3/4 cups water.  Bring to a boil over High heat.  Stir and then reduce the heat to Low.  Skim off the foam and discard.  Cook the beans until the liquid is completely absorbed, approximately 15 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let cool completely.

For the yellow batter, add the cooked mung beans, tapioca starch, rice flour, sugar, coconut milk, and food coloring into the blender and mix on High for 30-45 seconds or until smooth.  Measure out 18 oz of the yellow batter and set aside for now.

To make the green batter, combine tapioca starch, rice flour and sugar in a large measuring cup.  Add the water and stir until the mixture is smooth.  Add the pandan paste and mix well.  This should yield 24 oz.  (If less, add water until you have 24 oz of batter.)

Using a paper towel, coat the cake pan with a thin layer of vegetable oil.

Fill the steamer basin halfway with water and then bring to a boil over High heat.  Reduce the heat to Low.  Place the empty cake pan into the steamer and steam for 2 minutes.

Layer 1: Stir the green batter.  Measure out 8 oz of batter and pour into the cake pan.  Cover and steam for 5 minutes.  Remove the lid to release the steam.  Cover and steam for another 5 minutes.

Layer 2: Stir the yellow batter.  Measure out 9 oz of batter and gently pour over the first layer.  Cover and steam for 5 minutes.  Remove the lid to release the steam.  Cover and steam for another 5 minutes.

Layer 3: Stir the green batter.  Measure out 8 oz of batter and gently pour over the back of a large spoon and into the cake pan.  Cover and steam for 6 minutes.  Remove the lid to release the steam.  Cover and steam for another 6 minutes.

Layer 4: Stir the yellow batter.  Pour the remaining batter into the pan.  Cover and steam for 7 minutes.  Remove the lid to release the steam.  Cover and steam for another 7 minutes.

Layer 5: Stir the green batter.  Gently pour the remaining batter over the back of a large spoon and into the cake pan.  Cover and steam for 7 minutes.  Remove the lid to release the steam.  Cover and steam for another 8 minutes.

Remove from the steamer and let cool for at least 1 hour.

Oil a large knife or wavy knife with vegetable oil.  Cut the cake into small pieces.  Enjoy!

Store any leftover cake in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.  It’s good for up to 1 week.  Optionally, freeze the cake for up to 2 months.  To reheat, microwave on Low for 20-30 seconds.

Yields: 8-10 servings

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Steamed Layer Cake (Banh Da Lon) - Mildly sweet with a chewy, sticky texture, this cake is so addicting! |recipe from runawayrice.com

Recipe Twist!

For a fun Halloween treat, swap out the Pandan paste for orange food coloring and make the cakes using these cute pumpkin silicone molds.  For each layer use 1 Tbsp of batter.  Steam each layer until it’s no longer tacky.  Approximate steam times are:

Layer 1 Orange – 3 minutes
Layer 2 Yellow – 3 minutes
Layer 3 Orange – 5 minutes
Layer 4 Yellow – 7 minutes
Layer 5 Orange – 8 minutes

A twist on the delicious Vietnamese Steamed Layer Cake (Banh Da Lon), this are super-cute Halloween treats! | recipe from runawayrice.com

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Pressure Cooker Pho Ga/Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

Made this awesome popular noodle soup in a pressure cooker and it was super-easy. Shortcut cooking method but not a shortcut in flavor--Check out this authentic recipe!Pho Ga has become so mainsteam that most folks refer to the dish by its Vietnamese name rather than the translated name “Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup”. What is it about this unassuming soup that has captured everyone’s hearts and tummies? The answer:  simple ingredients–rice noodle and chicken served in an intoxicating broth layered with earthy, aromatic spices. The dish is then enjoyed with abundant fresh herbs and garnishes which further enhance the gastronomic journey! In a word, it’s AMAZING! 🙂

Now that your mouths are watering, let’s get to the recipe. In this post, I share a non-conventional approach for making Pho Ga in a pressure cooker. It’s easy, convenient and allows you to enjoy authentic, homemade pho with minimal fuss. I love this recipe because it’s so easy. I hope you’ll give it a try and let me know what you think!

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

The pressure cooker I am using is the Instant Pot IP-DUO60 7-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker, 6Qt/1000W. This electric appliance takes the guesswork out of using a pressure cooker.  It’s super easy to use and to clean.

Make the chicken stock from scratch if you have time. (Check out the recipe I shared earlier.) If you’re pressed for time, a store-bought organic chicken broth works great too.

When charring the onion and ginger, it can get fairly smoky so turn on the exhaust fan. The onion and ginger get pretty black but don’t worry as the skin will be removed. If you’re not comfortable with roasting over an open-flame, use a cast-iron pan.

Washing the chicken is a very important step. It rinses away any residual blood and bits that often make the soup cloudy. I use a big bowl to catch the rinse water and this way I can tell the chicken is clean when the water is clear.

If your pressure cooker has a tendency to burn the food touching the bottom of the pot, put down a layer of celery or carrots and then place the chicken on top. The vegetables will buffer the chicken and serve as a natural sweetener for the soup.

After the cooking time elapses, the pressure cooker switches over to a Keep Warm function.  This will keep the soup perfectly hot until you’re ready to serve.

Pho noodles come in different thicknesses and are sized as small, medium and large.  There are no hard and fast rules so choose what you like.  I prefer the medium-sized noodles and cook them for 4 minutes.  The noodles are tender but not mushy.

1 lb of dry rice noodles makes about 2 1/2 lbs cooked rice noodles.  This is a lot but some people like lots of noodles while others love lots of broth.  Most likely, you’ll have some noodles leftover.

Note that I do not season the broth with salt or fish sauce. Each person should salt his or her bowl to taste. When serving this soup, always make sure you provide a generous side of fish sauce. Avoid adding fish sauce directly to the entire soup pot because when the soup is refrigerated, it has a tendency to turn sour.

Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Vermicelli Soup with Chicken, Steamed Pork Roll and Egg (Bun Thang) and Crab Noodle Soup (Bun Rieu).

Ingredients

1 small yellow onion
2-inch section ginger
2 whole star anise
2 cardamom pods
5 cloves
1/2 Tbsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
3/4 oz rock sugar
1 Saigon cinnamon stick

5 lb whole organic chicken
2 Tbsp salt
9 cups chicken stock
1 lb rice stick/pho noodles, size medium

Garnishes and Accompaniments
2 green onions, chopped
ground black pepper
2 cups bean sprouts, washed and trimmed
Thai basil, sawtooth herb, cilantro, washed
red chilies
jalapenos, thinly sliced
2 limes, cut into wedges
fish sauce
hoisin sauce
sriracha sauce

Directions

Cut the onion in half. Remove the skin from one onion half and then thinly slice. Place into a small bowl and set aside for now.

Set the heat to Medium Low.  Place the remaining onion half and ginger directly over the flame. Cook each side for 5 minutes until charred. Rinse with cool water to wash off the loose char. Remove the outer layer of skin from the onion and ginger. Using a small knife, scrape off the char. Rinse again with cool water.  Use a pestle or meat hammer to slightly smash the ginger.

In a skillet over Low heat, add the star anise, cardamom, cloves, coriander seeds, fennel seeds and cinnamon. Stirring occasionally, toast for 7-8 minutes until fragrant. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Place the spices into a tea filter and tie shut with twine.

Sprinkle salt on the outside and inside of the chicken. Gently rub the salt into the skin. Wash the chicken thoroughly using a steady stream of cold water.

Trim off any visible fat and discard.

Put the chicken into the pressure cooker.  Add the onion, ginger, rock sugar and spices bag.  Pour in the chicken stock.

Cover with the lid and seal.  Set the cooker to High pressure, the timer to 30 minutes and let everything cook.

After the timer goes off, turn the valve to release the pressure.

Uncover the cooker.  Remove the onion, spices bag and ginger if visible.

Using a large slotted spoon, carefully transfer the entire chicken into a large bowl.  Cover the chicken with ice water and allow to soak for 2 minutes.  Drain the water.  Cover the bowl and allow the chicken to cool further.

Skim the broth and remove any bits floating at the top.

Soak the rice noodle in hot water for 10 minutes until limp.

Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil over High heat.  Add the drained noodles and swirl in the hot water.  Boil the noodles for 3-4 minutes stirring frequently.  Drain the noodles and then rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.  Drain and rinse again with cold water.  Toss the noodles to shake off the water.  Use a salad spinner to spin the noodles dry.  Cover until ready to serve.

When the chicken is cooled, remove the breast pieces and cut into thin slices.  Remove the remaining meat from the thighs and body and shred by hand or cut into thin strips.

To serve, add some rice noodles into a large bowl.  Add some sliced onions and chicken.  Ladle in a generous amount of the broth.  Top with green onions and freshly ground black pepper.  Enjoy the soup with the fresh herbs (Thai basil, sawtooth herb and cilantro), bean sprouts, and assorted chili peppers.  Add fish sauce, hoisin sauce, sriracha sauce and lime juice to taste.  Enjoy!

Yields:  5-7 servings

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Delicious homemade pho fast-tracked using a pressure cooker. Check out my recipe!

Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup/Pho Ga would not be completed without a refreshing plate of herbs, lime wedges and chilies!

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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.

Ingredients

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

Directions

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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A delicious homemade treat for Valentine's Day!

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