I know it was a teeny stretch to call this peanut brittle in a recent post. And I suppose I am stretching yet again in calling the candy I am about to describe a relative of its Western cousin, the caramel. But let’s be open, shall we? After all, in the rules of my food world- if it tastes good, it’s all good.
In Kaiping, there is a local candy derived from the Hawthorn fruit. Now, my knowledge of the Hawthorn is restricted to wikipedia’s definition, but after tasting this candy I am definitely intrigued to find out more about how and where this berry is used- in addition to it’s actual flavor profile, unmasked by the sugar that I tasted it with.
Upon first impression of the Kaiping specialty, it looks like a hybrid of honey and caramel. Actually, the first impression is a pretty accurate one. The process to get this syrup is lost on me, and though I’d venture to guess that somehow the fruit juices are extracted and blended with sugar on low heat until the sticky syrup is formed, I can only accurately comment on the final product- something decadently sweet and tacky and delightfully simple.
A large warm pot of the syrup/candy stays, covered, until some lucky person (me!) asks for one stick (for one rmb!). Here, a young boy working at his family’s stand would take one from a pair of disposable chopsticks, as well as a stick which looked like it was picked off the ground and stick both into the vat of sugar syrup. Then he twirled the sticky substance around the chopstick, coaxing it with the blunt stick around itself.
The texture is pretty hard to accurately describe- there is nothing that I could find to equate it to. But be satisfied in knowing that feels pretty much how it looks. Super tacky, and sticky, yet if you lick it with your wet tongue it doesn’t really do anything. It has the feeling and taste of warm taffy, and there is a buttery quality to it like caramel, though I am almost positive there is absolutely no butter in it. The stuff doesn’t ooze like fresh caramel or honey, but rather slowly morphs like partially-dried hot glue. One could potentially bite it off and chew (though it would leave strings of sticky syrup on your chin), but it would surely leave you with a toothache. Overall it’s a super satisfying treat, one which a small amount you see below lasted me about 45minutes worth of tasty entertainment.