Fah Sung Thong (Peanut and Sesame Brittle)
Fah Sung Thong when translated literally means peanut candy. This simple yet delicious candy is another childhood favorite that I took for granted. They were inexpensive and readily available. Mom had contacts and knew where to purchase freshly made ones for the holidays and festivities. These were made by friends in small batches and were far superior to the commercially available ones.
Fast forward to the year 2013. How difficult can this be? The ingredients list is short and the method appears to be pretty simple and straight forward. I never thought I would only be successful on the third attempt. Fortunately, raw peanuts and sesame seeds are not expensive and I had a good supply of both in my pantry.
In my first attempt I over boiled the sugar while trying to take pictures and it quickly turned into one huge black sticky mess. I also forgot to add the flavorings I had intended to put in. The second time, I added the flavorings into the syrup which caused it to foam. This made it difficult for me to gauge the color of the syrup, thus under boiling it. After the two attempts, I made the necessary adjustments and was ecstatic that it came out just the way it should be. The third time’s a charm!
Yes, it is time again for another round of Nona-Nona with my blogging buddy Denise. It is my turn to select a theme for this month’s challenge. After some deliberation, I decided that we should do a CHINESE NEW YEAR dish with the Chinese New Year falling on February 10th this year. Most Chinese households in Malaysia and Singapore are currently busy preparing for the 15 days festivities. Since it is a big holiday there are many dishes Denise and I can prepare. Hopefully, this time we will not end up with the same dish again. So far we have had 7 challenges in all and would you believe we made the same dish twice? The first one was in the STREET SNACKS challenge where we both made boiled peanut. The second was the DECEMBER challenge where we ended up making tang yuan. You can check out our past challenges here. Now, let’s hop over to Singapore Shiok! to see what Denise has cooked up in her kitchen.
Traditionally, Fah Sung Thong is made with just sugar and peanuts. Sometimes sesame seeds are included. I added red chili flakes and five-spice powder just because… I can’t say the five-spice powder was discernible (perhaps I should have used a little more) but the chili flakes did give a “bite”. I love the slight spiciness but omit it if you prefer to stick to the original taste.
The purpose of the vinegar is to lighten up the brittle so that it breaks when you bite instead of having to suck it like a lollipop or toffee. Vinegar reacts with the sugar to form carbon dioxide which is trapped in the highly viscous syrup. When cooled, the candy has a clear glass like appearance. Out here in the West, baking soda is used instead. It is added at the end, causing the syrup to foam. When cooled, the candy has a frosted look.
It is best to use a thermometer for this recipe if you have one. I do not have one and so I eye balled it. The times given are what I experienced in my kitchen. A few words of caution when making candy – Do NOT touch the syrup, it is HOT! Work fast as it hardens quickly and most IMPORTANT of all, be CAREFUL!
- 1½ cups (8 oz/225g) shelled raw peanuts
- ½ tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp five-spice powder
- ½ tsp red chili flakes
- ¼ cup (35g) sesame seeds, toasted
- 1 cup (220g) granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp vinegar
- 1/3 cup (80ml) water
Place peanuts in a single layer and roast in a 350°F (180°C) oven for about 13 to 15 minutes until lightly browned. Remove and immediately toss with salt and five-spice powder. Set aside and allow it to cool.
Line a 10-in x 6½-in pan with parchment paper. Sprinkle half the sesame seeds and all the nuts over base of tin. Sprinkle the red chili flakes on the top. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine sugar, vinegar, and water. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. This should take about 3 minutes. Bring to a boil. Cover and allow it to continue boiling for approximately 16 minutes or until sugar turns a light amber color or is between 300°F (149°C) and 310°F (154°C). Turn off heat.
Pour melted sugar over peanuts and sesame seeds. Sprinkle the remaining sesame seeds evenly on the top.
After about 5 minutes cut candy into rectangles before it cools completely.
Peanut brittle make lovely gifts and they are always well received. Peanuts signify longevity and multiplication of wealth and good fortune.
The hard-crack stage is the highest temperature specified in a candy recipe. There is almost no water left in the syrup and the temperature is between 300°F (149°C) and 310°F (154°C). Nut brittles are cooked to this hard-crack stage. The picture below is my little piece of “testing” candy dropped into cold water. 2013 is the Year of the Snake.
I know this is a little early but I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all…..