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Dragon's Beard Candy

Updated: Jan 29, 2021

Wait what?!! Not actually but it is an "Ancient Chinese" confection, made of thousands of threads (16,384 to be exact!) of hand pulled sugar stretched so fine that they resemble...you got it - a dragon's beard! Wrap it around a peanut filling for the most delicate candy you've ever tasted. Success rate is pretty low but you must accept this challenge. You can do it and will be rewarded with a one of a kind treat for your great effort!

I remember having this candy at grandma's when I was young. Must have been a gift. I remember the texture being different but then I figured out why. This candy is very susceptible to humidity. Store bought has been sitting around for who knows how long. Even though still delicious the texture was drier, more brittle and crumbly. When you make it fresh, it is a little chewy and melt in your mouth.

The key to success is being patient! Take your time. Trust me, it will cut down on frustration and increase success rate. I took it for the team and now I'm passing on my wisdom. GO SLOWLY and you will be rewarded.

Dragon's Beard Candy


Ingredients (makes a lot of candy, time: a few hours but mostly waiting)

Candy

2 cups sugar

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon vinegar

1 cup water


Filling

3/4 cup peanuts

3 Tablespoons sugar

3 Tablespoons softened butter or peanut butter


Equipment

4-5 cups corn starch in a rectangular cake pan

3 plastic containers

candy thermometer


Directions

In a medium saucepan over medium to medium heat, add sugar, light corn syrup, vinegar and water. Mix and scrape down sides with a silicone spatula. Try not to leave any sugar crystals on the sides of the pot. Insert and leave in candy thermometer in a position that you can see the temperature. Now just wait. Do not stir. Resist the urge. You don't want to stir or get any sugar crystals into the heating mixture or it can "seed" crystals to form. You don't want that. It will take a while but the slower the temperature rises the better your result will be. Once the temperature gets to 267-268°F (hard ball stage) turn off the heat immediately and remove pot from hot burner. This may take about 20-30 minutes. Don't walk away when it gets close. If sugar gets too hot it will become more brittle and will break when you try to stretch it which will be VERY frustrating. Trust me.


The temperature will continue to rise a couple degrees then will start to drop. In about half hour when the temperature reaches 212°F pour the mixture into plastic containers (short round soup takeout containers work great! If you have doughnut silicone molds, that works too). Leave at room temperature for about 2 hours until cool enough to handle.


In the meantime make the filling. In a food processor add peanuts and sugar. Process until finely chopped. Transfer to a small bowl and mix in softened butter or peanut butter until you get a loose paste. Set aside.


Add 4-5 cups of cornstarch into a rectangular cake pan. When the sugar puck is cool enough, unmold into your pan of cornstarch dusting both sides. Work over the pan. Shake off excess starch and use the back of a wooden spoon to poke a hole through the middle of the sugar puck. This will take a bit of muscle.


Now you will start stretching. Get your thumb or a finger in the hole to start rotating and stretching the sugar. It will take a lot of muscle at first but will gradually get easier as the strands get thinner. Pull, rotate and stretch gently, constantly dipping in the cornstarch. Don't pull too hard or stretch too fast or you could break it. Try your best to keep the rope the a consistent thickness. When the rope is stretched to the length of the cake pan, give it a twist and double it so that you now have 4 strands. Continue stretching, rotating and pulling and doubling up 13 times until you get 16, 384 fine strands. Great job! Repeat with other sugar pucks if you are not too tired.


Rip off a bundle of candy strands about 8" long. Place about a teaspoon of filling on one end and roll it to the other end. There you have it! Dragon's beard candy! You worked hard. Great job, now you get to taste the sweets of your labor.


This candy is very susceptible to humidity. Best enjoyed right away but you can place in an airtight container. If you have any silica gel packets laying around you can put a couple of those in the container. If they get too humid they will get sticky and chewy like taffy. Better a bit drier than sticky! Enjoy!

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