Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dragon's beard candy

Dragon's beard candy is a form of spun sugar traditional in China. It is said to have been invented for the emperor about 2,000 years ago. It consists of many very fine strands of sugar, giving it the appearance and consistency of a fine beard – hence its name.


The candy is made by boiling partially or a plain sucrose and maltose solution until it just reaches the stage and then leaving it to cool. The resulting solid, which is pliable, is formed into a torus and then repeatedly stretched and folded over, doubling the number of strands on each repetition. While the candy is being folded it is kept covered in toasted glutinous rice flour, in order to keep the strands from sticking together.

The finished beard is cut up into small pieces and usually then wrapped around crushed peanuts and sesame seeds . The candy is supposed to be eaten immediately after manufacture, although it will keep for up to six months.

Traditionally the candy is made from honey and rock sugar, although recipes based on corn syrup are now used in the United States.

It is common for street vendors of dragon's beard candy to carry out the folding process at their stall, which attracts customers fascinated by the process as much as by a desire to purchase the candy.

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