Friday, January 17, 2014

Traditional Peanut Sesame Candy (传统芝麻花生糖)

I wonder how many people remember eating these when they were young? I think this type of chinese traditional peanut sesame candy (called Fah Sung Tong in Cantonese or Thor Tao Teng in Hokkien) is pretty difficult to find nowadays. Probably the only time I get a chance to taste it, is during the 7th lunar month ghost festival when my mum would participate in the praying session organized by the PAP Residents Committee, and she would get a goodie-bag in a plastic pail which sometimes contain a packet of such peanut candies. Another occasion I can think of, would be if somebody gets married and the family orders from Tai Thong Cake Shop or Gin Thye Cake Maker for the 过大礼 Guo-Da-Li or bethrothal ceremony, and if you are a close relative, then you would get a box of traditonal chinese wedding cakes which may contain traditional biscuits and candies such as tau sar piah (豆沙饼), gong tang (贡糖) and peanut candy (花生糖). I have never received such a box of chinese wedding cakes in my life, seems that not many people are sticking to traditions nowadays. :)

I always joke that this peanut sesame candy is for the Ti-Ki (iron teeth) people and not for the Boh-Gay (no teeth) folks, honestly this is for people with really good strong teeth. If you have rickety teeth, you better stay away from this candy, I am not joking. Although this maybe bad for your teeth, but this is absolutely delicious and crunchy and can be very addictive, you wouldn't stop at one piece if you are a big fan of such candies!

I think this peanut sesame candy would be ideal for CNY, since peanuts (fa sung) symbolize prosperity, definitely a must-have for chinese people who are doing business. Do people still serve this type of candies at CNY, I wonder? 

I tried making this candy on Wednesday afternoon. Since I couldn't find unsalted skinless roasted peanuts, I had to buy 2x250g of roasted peanuts with shells and had to spend 1 hour removing the shells and skins, and breaking the peanuts into halves. It was time-consuming and tedious work, and 500g of peanuts would only yield 300g after shelling and peeling. The method by itself however was quite straightforward, although there are a few important points to take note.

Recipe adapted from My Kitchen Snippets and Lily Ng
1 cup castor sugar (50g)
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp white vinegar (called alcohol-azijn in Dutch)
0.25 cups toasted white sesame seeds
2.25 cups unsalted, skinless roasted peanuts (300g)

1. Toast the white sesame seeds in a pan over medium heat for a few min until fragrant and slightly toasted.

2. Line a 15 cm x 25 cm (6 inch x 10 inch) rectangular baking pan with aluminium foil and grease generously with vegetable oil or baking spray. (It is very important that you grease the aluminium foil lining the pan. I forgot to do so, thank goodness it was'nt too difficult to remove the peanut candy from the foil.)

3. Combine 50% of the sesame seeds and all of the peanuts together and spread them evenly in 1 single layer over the baking pan. 

4. Using a non-stick heavy-bottom pan, add sugar, white vinegar and water, mix well and cook over medium heat until it reaches 300F or 150C on a candy thermometer. (I actually used an oven thermometer to measure the temp and I realised that even after 15 min of cooking over medium heat, I could only achieve 105 - 110 degrees celsius and no further, but the sugar syrup has already turned dark brown. So I would suggest to stop once you see the syrup turning light brown, which would take any time from 10 to 15 min on medium heat. It doesn't matter if you don't use a candy thermometer. Just note that it would boil for quite some time without changing colour but once it hits 100C, it will start turning light brown. Be very careful though as as the boiling sugar syrup is very hot!)

5. Once the sugar syrup is ready, remove it from heat. Carefully pour it over the nuts, and smooth it with a spatula, then sprinkle the remaining sesame seeds over it(As my sugar syrup was already dark brown, it was reduced in volume, very concentrated, sticky and viscous, and as I poured it over the nuts, it actually set very quickly and hardly flowed through the nuts due to its viscousity even as I tried tilting the pan from side to side. As it hardened, the texture reminded me of maltose. So my suggestion is to only boil the sugar syrup until light brown, and not dark brown.)

6. Allow the candy to cool a while, then remove the candy from the baking pan by lifting up the edges of the aluminium foil. Using a sharp knife, cut the candy into 2 inch by 1 inch pieces. Allow the candy bars to cool completely before storing them in airtight containers. Once the candy bars are cooled, it will become brittle and crunchy. (The peanut candy should be cut as soon as the sugar syrup has set and while it is still warm. You have to work fast. If you wait too long, it will be difficult to slice as it would turn even harder. I only waited 1 or 2 min before I started cutting the candy since my sugar syrup set almost immediately upon pouring.)

- White vinegar is required as it prevents the sugar syrup from crystallizing during boiling.
- The hard-crack stage of making candy is at 150C or 300F, that is when there is almost no water left in the syrup. However I couldn't achieve that temp and I stopped at 105 to 110C which worked fine for me, not sure if my oven thermometer was faulty. :)

I am linking this post to Bake-Along: Chinese New Year Cookies, organized by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids, Joyce of Kitchen Flavours and Lena of Frozen Wings.


  1. Hi Ms B,

    I can imagine all the time and hard work to shell 500g of peanuts! Ai yo... Should get the kids to help :p


    1. My kiddies are far too young to help, they will throw the shells all over the floor and gobble up the peanuts at the same time :)

  2. Hi Miss B,
    You made your own peanut candy! We can still get it here sometimes, and yes, even though these are hard, they are addictive! Very nice with some warm Chinese tea!
    Thanks for linking!

    1. Hi Joyce,
      Yes, it's addictive, I have already finished them all by myself!

      In Singapore, we can still occasionally get them in old-fashioned neighbourhood bakeries or traditional cake shops, but once you know how to make your own, you wouldn't wanna buy them from a shop again.

      Now my next target is to make ma lau (麻佬) which is coated with sesame seeds or lau hua (佬花) which is coated with rice crispies. But cant find the recipe anywhere. :(

  3. wow, you made your own peanut candy!! i always think it's quite a complicated thing to make candy due to the monitoring of the temp, my thermometer is also not too reliable..haha..we can get peanut candies here from quite many shops but really nice and fresh ones, maybe just a few. But i must still applaud you for making these, thx for all the tips given!

  4. The white vinegar also stops the sugar from browning further. Next time I suggest you can save some of the vinegar at the start, and pour it into the caramelised sugar when it's light brown so that it doesn't continue brown ing further (:


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