Thursday, January 21, 2010

3 Recipe #59: Dulce de Tamarindo (Tamarind Candy)

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In my travels to Mexico, I had the lucky experience of tasting dulce de tamarindo, or tamarind candy. These are sold pretty much everywhere there -- at open markets, festivals & fairs, in grocery stores & convenience marts, etc. -- Heck, you can even find them in airports. :)

While they are sometimes sold in mini clay cazuelas, I more commonly found them wrapped in cellophane.
I've eaten them in various forms -- sometimes in a more natural incarnation -- i.e., shelled whole tamarind covered with sugar, chili, & salt -- & other times, they were pulverized mixtures of tamarind pulp, sugar, chili, salt, etc., shaped into little balls of confection.

Whatever form they take, they are yummy & totally addictive. :-D

As this is a healthy gourmet blog, I decided to come up with a healthier version that can be enjoyed without feeling guilty over the prospect of having all of one's teeth fall out at once. :)

So, here, as promised in a previous post, is my much healthier take on "dulces de tamarindo." Enjoy!

Dulce de Tamarindo

1 c. hot water
1 c. tamarind paste (a concentrate)
1 c. honey
1 tsp. powdered chili (Or alternatively, you can use Tajín Fruit seasoning.)
1 small pinch of salt
Granular or confectioner's sugar, for dusting

1. In a sauce pot, heat tamarind paste & water over medium heat, stirring constantly. Add honey & continue to stir until dissolved. Bring mixture to a boil & continue to cook until the candy mixture is reduced by about 1/3. Mixture should be thick & shouldn't run.
2. As a test, put a small amount on a dish & place in the fridge. If it sets after a few minutes, then proceed to the next step. (If not, then boil the mixture a little longer. :) Be very careful NOT to overcook, as the flavor will become less desirable.)
3. Remove sauce pot from heat & allow to cool a bit. Next, combine with chili & salt, & stir, making sure to blend the mixture thoroughly. Then pour the mixture onto a cookie sheet (or 9 x 13 inch baking pan) & spread it out a bit. Refrigerate for a few hours until it sets & becomes firm.
4. Remove from fridge. Pinch off small amounts & roll into small, quarter-sized balls.
5. Place into Ziploc bag of sugar. Shake to coat the tamarind balls.
6. Store in the fridge in an airtight container.

Chef's Note: Working with tamarind tends to be a messy affair, so you might want to wear latex/rubber gloves, an apron, &/or old clothes you don't care too much about while working with the stuff. Also, please note, that it stains & is hard to get out of clothing.  Not that I would know that from personal experience or anything. ;-)

Featured above are the flowers of a tamarind plant. Pretty stunning, eh?!


Lizz Huerta said...

I'm trying this out, thanks for posting. Do you buy the paste in the jar or the brick sold at Asian markets? I'm trying to make Tamarindo Candied Apples. . .

Cyberpenguin said...

Hello Liz,

Thanks for your comments! To answer your question: For this particular recipe, I use the concentrated paste that comes in a jar. It saves a whole lot of time & mess. :)

Tamarind candied apples sound yummy. Let me know how they turn out.

Any chance you could share the recipe?! :) You're welcome to paste it into the comments section of this post or just email it to me. I'd really love to try making it.

Thanks so much!

Cyberpenguin said...

Hi again, Liz,
Oooh, I just happened to find a useful site on cooking with tamarind. And the funny thing is that I wasn't even looking for it! I was looking for something completely different & it just magically appeared in front of me & leaped out from the page. :) So check it out. Hope you find it useful.

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