Read the post in: 繁體中文
Sweet, chewy with a smoky flavor, the Chinese Date Walnut Candy is delicious with tons of nutty flavor. It’s also perfect for the Chinese New Year!
It’s not a secret that I have a sweet tooth, and I’ve known it since I was a kid. I remember when I first time having this Chinese Date Walnut Candy, I immediately fell in love with it. And I still love it.
We call it “Nán-Zǎo-Hé-Táo-Gāo” (南棗核桃糕) in Taiwan.
The sweetness from the maltose syrup and the smoky taste of the Chinese black date are so delicious and perfect for any time of the year, yet specially for Chinese New Year, which is just around the corner when I type this post.
I’ve tried to make this candy 2-3 times last year, but it didn’t turn out great, I mean, texture-wise. The taste was great though.
This year I gathered myself again to try to make it a few times, and finally, it turned out really great. I also learned quite a few things through those attempts.
Here I will share the recipes as well as some troubleshooting solutions with you.
Ingredients You Need
There are 7 ingredients plus some water for this Chinese date candy:
- Maltose sugar syrup: It’s the major ingredient for this candy. You can use either the traditional brown-color one or the translucent one.
- Sugar: The most common and easy-to-get option is cane sugar, but any kind of granulated sugar can work (vegan ones if possible). Here I use Trehalose.
- Chinese black date paste: This is the hero ingredient for this Chinese date candy recipe. I’m using homemade date paste, but if you don’t have time, you could look for it in some baking shops. It’s quite common at least in Taiwan.
- Corn starch: The keyword is starch. We need it to create a more chewy texture.
- Oil: Any kind of neutral-flavor oil can work. Here I’m using grapeseed oil.
- Toasted Walnuts: They are a must. This candy really won’t taste the same if you omit it. Whole walnuts or half ones will be the best option. And make sure it’s toasted. If not, toast the walnuts in the oven at 140 C for 10 minutes.
- Salt & Water: We also need a little bit of salt and water for this Chinese date candy.
How to Make Chinese Date Walnut Candy
There are not many steps in this date walnut candy recipe, but the devil is in the detail. This time, it’s about temperature.
Don’t panic. Here I will walk you step by step.
First, add the maltose sugar syrup, sugar, salt, and 2 tablespoons of water to a non-stick deep frying pan over low heat. Cook and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Turn off the heat.
Then in a small bowl, mix the corn starch with 3 table spoons of water.
Add the corn starch mixture to the maltose sugar syrup, as well as Chinese date paste, salt, and oil.
Turn on the heat to medium. Keep cooking and stirring to incorporate.
Add the walnuts. Keep cook and stirring until it reaches 115 C / 240 F.
The temperature is very important because it determines the texture of the final candy. If it goes too high, the candy will be too hard; if it doesn’t reach 115 C, it will be too soft.
Once it reaches 115 C / 240 F, transfer the mixture onto a rectangle baking pan lined with parchment paper. Place another piece of parchment paper on the mixture. Use a spatula to press the mixture down into a single layer.
Let it cool. Then use an oiled knife to cut it into small chunks. Use edible rice paper or parchment paper to separate each candy to prevent sticking.
It’s normal for these candies to be sticky but it should still be able to hold their shape.
How to Store Chinese Date Walnut Candy
These candies can be store in an air-tight container at room temperature for about 1-2 weeks. If you want to make it last longer, store it in the fridge. They should last for about 1 month.
I never let it stay in the house for over 2 weeks, though. (You know, wink wink)
If it’s in summer, I recommend storing them in the fridge to prevent getting too soft.
What if the candy is too hard?
If the candy becomes too hard, add it to a non-stick pan with some water. Cook and stir to incorporate. Make sugar it doesn’t pass 115 C / 240 F.
I’m using an infrared thermometer to measure the temperature.
What if the candy is too soft?
If the candy is too soft, transfer the mixture back to the pan and cook to reduce the moisture, and make sugar until it reaches 113-115 C / 235 – 240 F.
Can I reduce the amount of sugar?
This recipe is already a deducted-sugar recipe. More cutting down will not be recommended because it will affects the final texture as well.
That’s it! These date walnut candies are really delicious and unique. I hope you could give it a try and let me know how it goes.
If you’re interested in more Asian recipes, here are some for you:
- Chinese Black Sesame Soup (5 Ingredients)
- Taiwanese Sweet Peanut Soup (3 ingredients)
- Taiwanese Red Bean Soup (3 ingredients)
Chinese Date Walnut Candy 南棗核桃糕
- Line an 8″ rectangle baking pan with parchment paper.
- In a non-stick deep frying pan, add the maltose sugar syrup, sugar, salt, and 2 tablespoons of water over low heat. Cook and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Turn off the heat.
- In a small bowl, mix the corn starch with 3 Tbsp of water.
- Add the corn starch mixture to the maltose sugar syrup, as well as Chinese date paste and oil.
- Turn on the heat to medium. Keep cooking and stirring to incorporate.
- Add the walnuts. Keep cook and stirring until it reaches 115 C / 240 F. Turn off the heat.
- Transfer the mixture onto a rectangle baking pan lined with parchment paper. Place another piece of parchment paper on the mixture. Use a spatula to press the mixture down into a single layer.
- Let it cool down. Then use an oiled knife to cut it into small chunks. Use edible rice paper or parchment paper to separate each candy to prevent sticking.
- *Oil: Any neutral-flavor oil can work, like sunflower oil and avocado oil.
- **Toasted walnuts: Place the walnuts in a baking tray and bake in the oven at 140 C / 284 F for about 10 minutes until they smell amazing.
- Storage: Store in an air-tight container at room temperature for 1-2 weeks or 4 weeks in the fridge.
- Adapted from The Hong Kong Cookery