Candy for Chinese New Year?
When I think about Chinese food it’s usually Egg Rolls or Sichuan Beef with Orange Flavor or Kung Pao Gai Ding.
In fact, I don’t associate Chinese cuisine with anything sweet or dessert-like. Years ago I took Chinese cooking lessons at the China Institute and my teacher, the great Florence Lin, said that Chinese recipes often have a little sugar in them and so, one’s “sweet tooth” is satisfied by the end of a meal, with no need for any special dessert.
And yet — one of the recipes I learned was one for the kind of Sesame Seed-Nut Brittle I remember my parents buying whenever we visited New York’s Chinatown. It is sweet! And salty too, a nice balance. It’s also crunchy and gets into every tooth.
It’s also easy to make and lasts a while.
Happy New Year of the Snake.
Celebrate with candy.
Cashew Sesame Seed Candy Bars
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1-1/2 cups cashews, broken up
2 cups sugar
5 tablespoons white vinegar
1-1/2 tablespoons water
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the sesame seeds in a single layer in a jelly roll pan for about 10 minutes or until lightly toasted (shake the pan once or twice during the baking time). Lightly oil an 8-inch or 9-inch cake pan. Place half the sesame seeds and all of the cashews in the prepared pan and set aside. Place the sugar, vinegar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir only until the ingredients are well mixed. Continue to cook until the mixture is turning golden and reaches the “hard crack” stage (a drop of the mixture in cold water will be hard and brittle), about 295 degrees on a candy thermometer. Pour the hot syrup over the seeds and nuts. Sprinkle with the remaining sesame seeds. Let cool for a few minutes, until the ingredients are “set.” Cut into bars with a knife. Let cool and harden completely. Recut where the initial cuts have been placed. Makes 16 pieces