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Do-It-Yourself Dragon's Beard Candy

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Picture of Do-It-Yourself Dragon's Beard Candy
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As I was poking around my regular blogs I stumbled upon this YouTube video here http://youtu.be/auRNHI2nkIU which has inspired me and my sister to try the recipe out and to share what we've learned.

The recipe for the candy is in fact dead easy make, it is the technique to magically change a solid puck of sugar into a cotton candy like consistency that is really the tricky bit.

Now where I live it is more likely known as Dragon's Beard candy, but in essence it is a type of pulled candy like taffy. It can also be described as a hand-pulled cotton candy.

Bare in mind that we're amateurs at making this, so the end result is not pretty and if this is your first time making this do not expect it to turn out perfectly until you have made it a few times. 

You can find other names for this candy here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragon%27s_beard_candy for educational purposes.

Now onwards to the next step...


 
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Step 1: Ingredients and Tools

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For a basic Dragon's Beard you need,

Ingredients (Syrup):-
* 1000g / 2.2lb of sugar
* 100g / 3.5oz of light corn syrup or maltose
* 1 tsp of white vinegar (careful here, too much or too little might mess up the final product)
* 500ml or 2 cups of water

Ingredients (Dusting):-
* 3 to 4 cups of corn starch or rice flour

Ingredients (Filling):-
* 2 to 3 cups of peanuts

Tools:-
* a saucepan that will comfortably fit the ingredients
* a candy thermometer
* a pastry brush
* round disposable plastic containers or preferably silicone doughnut baking molds
* your hands

Note: We highly HIGHLY recommend you use silicone doughnut baking molds or just silicone baking molds in general. We will cover why a steps down.

Step 2: The Syrup

For the syrup you pretty much just dump in the sugar, corn syrup, vinegar and water into the saucepan.

Clip on the candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan.

Then just turn on the heat to a medium-high flame, we are aiming for 133 Celsius or 271 Fahrenheit and try to keep the cooking time between 20 to 25 minutes.

Now here is a slightly tough part, but resist the urge to stir the syrup. The reason for this is to avoid sugar crystals forming from the agitation.

You will want to kill the flame when the temperature hits 132 Celsius or 269 Fahrenheit, it will hit the required temperature on it's own.

Also note that the temperature will stop rising at about 105 Celsius or 221 Fahrenheit momentarily, this is normal and you do not have to raise the heat. It is just the chemical process of the sugar crystals changing from one state to another.

Step 3: The "Puck"

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Once you have taken the syrup off the heat you should let it cool down to 100 Celsius or 212 Fahrenheit, especially if you are using a disposable plastic container as a mold. If you are using silicone baking molds then go ahead and pour the syrup straight in.

You may need help pouring the syrup into the molds, one person to pour from the saucepan and one to control the flow with a wooden spatula or equivalent. 

Allow these, for lack of a better word, pucks to cool down completely which takes about an hour of two depending how thick the pucks are. Do not put them into the fridge to shorten cooling time, you might disrupt the crystal formation and ruin the final product.

Note: The reason we suggest using silicone baking molds is that chemically it is safer than plastic, can take higher temperatures and is extremely flexible. Our first try using disposable plastic containers suggested by other sources did not turn out so well. The heating and cooling of the plastic caused it to turn brittle and made it harder to take the puck out, out of frustration I whacked it on the table and the plastic shattered.

So please take my advice and use silicone baking molds if you have them on hand. Specifically use silicone doughnut molds, you will be wanting the hole it makes when you start working with it you will see in Step 5.




Step 4: While Things Cool Down

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Now here is something to do while you wait for the syrup pucks to completely cool down. You can also do this while the syrup is boiling and working it's way to the desired temperature or do this at the very beginning.

Put the cornstarch or rice flour into a dry pan and roast it for about 10 minutes on a low to medium flame so that is does not brown. Then put aside to cool along side the pucks.

Next is to dry roast the peanuts in the same pan until cooked. Once that is done just chuck it into a food processor, blender or even chop it with a knife. You want to chop it fine and not turn it to dust or powder like i did. But even if you do it does not effect the taste, it would effect the texture of finish product though.

That done, go ahead and do something else while things cool down.

Step 5: Pull it, Dip it

Now to the heart of this little project, turning a solid puck of sugar into flossy delicate hair-like candy. In the first picture you can see that if you have decided to use a plastic container or silicone cupcake molds you will have to punch a hole through the middle of it. Your thumb will suffice but it does take quite a bit of effort in which case you can use a tool of your choice, we used a sturdy chopstick on our first go.

The goal here is to get a ring instead of a puck which is why we tried doughnut molds and to our delight it turned out wonderfully. The flexible silicone made it a dream to pull the puck out and having the hole already there made it easier to get started. As an added bonus, the smaller puck was just about the right amount of candy to work with. We found using the bigger puck made in the plastic container was too much to work with and were more prone to making mistakes.

First thing to do with you ring is to dip it into the cornstarch and be sure to get an even coat all over it. Now just keep working it in your hands, you will feel it begin to bend to your will. Dipping and coating the candy with cornstarch prevents the strands from sticking and keeps them separate. If where you live has high humidity levels, like where I live, you will need to dip it more often to combat the moisture in the air.

Slowly pull the ring while making sure it is an even thickness all round the band of the ring. Dip in back into the cornstarch to coat it. Work it until you get about 4 times the size of the original puck.

Then you make it a figure-8 like in picture 5 and fold it so that you now have 2 rings or strands. Be sure to dip it into the cornstarch again.

Now you need to work the strands again until you get to a size where you can get a figure-8 and fold it again to get 4 strands. Oh and, you've guessed it, dip it into the cornstarch.

With that you work it again so that you can get a figure-8 and fold to get 8 strands and then dip it in cornstarch. As you can see a pattern is emerging, you will continue to do this for a further 8 times for a total of 11. At the end of 11 folds, you will have about 2048 strands. At this point you may stop but if you want finer strands you can go a further 3 more folds for total of 14 pulls with a strand count of 16384.

Onwards to the next step for the filling.

Step 6: Fill it, Fold it, Roll it up.

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Here you need to lay the floss or "beard" on a flat surface dusted with cornstarch, this helps keep the strands separate and leaves your hands free for the next step. 

Now just tear off a rough 4inch section of the "beard" so that you can put your filling in. You will need to tear it it off and not cut it off, cutting it might cause it merge which you don't want to happen.

Just spoon in some chopped peanuts in the middle of the 4inch bit, fold it in half and then roll it up. You are done :) 

You now have the first piece of Dragon's Beard candy, go ahead and eat it instead of keeping. You have definitely earned it, enjoy :)


Step 7: Packing and Storing

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Now for this sized recipe you should get about 120 to 160 Dragon Beard's candy pieces, I kind of lost count near the end. Even then I am unsure due to the fact that we kept pinching at pieces here and there to reward ourselves :D

You should be able to keep it in an airtight container for about a week of two, we're not sure since it never lasted long for us to find out. If you have any desiccant packets on hand toss one or two in with the candy, it is very susceptible to humidity and those packets will help keep it fresh longer and less sticky.

If you have any left over pucks that has yet to be turned into candy you can keep for up to a month but I haven't had a chance to try that yet. When you are ready to use the pucks there will be a layer of crusty sugar on the surface of the puck, just pick it off or try to work it back into the candy. You will also need to microwave it for a few seconds to soften it up before you work with it.



 

Step 8: Final Thoughts

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Here are some ideas and thoughts that occurred to us while we were working with the candy.

For when you pull and fold it:-
As mentioned in Step 5 you can pull and fold it about 11 to 14 times before things start getting odd. As a lark I just kept going after I hit number 14 and all the strands slowly merged back into a single strand as I kept going. But a rather interesting thing happened, even though it was getting to the consistency of chewy candy but had the taste and texture of cotton candy which you could count as a new kind of candy. It is like getting two candies with one recipe.

For the puck:-
We found a using a little veggie or olive oil on your hands makes it easy to get the initial ring started. Keep in mind that a little oil goes a long way so do not go overboard.

For the dusting and dipping powder:-
Cornstarch is a good place to start for it's bland flavour, here in my country we use glutinous rice flour which gives it a more oriental taste. You could mix cocoa powder with the cornstarch at a 50|50 or 25|75 percentage to get a chocolate Dragon's Beard. You could mix it with mustard powder to get a more savoury candy. Basically you could use pretty much anything as long as it is in powder form.

For the filling:-
You could use different kinds of nuts instead of peanuts. Chocolate chips or sprinkles works as well. Jelly or jam could work too as long as it is not too wet, you would end up with a sticky wet mess.

For the syrup:-
You could infuse the syrup with essential oils like orange or mint, vanilla extract, rose water or whatever you else you imagine. Though bare in mind that these additions can effect the end product so be aware.

I do hope that you have fun in making this candy and will enjoy sharing it with friends and family. It does make a rather unique gift in my opinion. Do experiment with it and see what you can get, you might just make a new candy.
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CathoHolic4 years ago
just wanna drop by because this reminds me of one of my favorite korean snacks I purchase from the vendors on the streets of Korea

It's called Kkul Tarae a traditional Korean snack for Royalty (back in the ol' days of course)

here's some videos on how to pull them better and to use different ingredients (?)
they taste better too than that sugar concoction

Korean Vendors... where they know how to sell with their performances and multi-language knowledge and humor


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRuX_BVMNDY
First video will show a method to stretch and it's humorous to listen
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCLYieehzGs
Second video shows a better show on how to properly wrap them into little individual packets while also giving another humorous video :D

Personally I like the Korean Dragon's beard over the Chinese Dragon's Beard due to use of different base solid.
zidthekid (author)  CathoHolic4 years ago
Thank you for the education, it's always nice to learn something new from someone. I did not know that's what it's called in Korea and I think I hurt my tongue trying to say the name :D

I have only ever known the Chinese style of making it because I am from Malaysia and the Chinese make up a major part of the population.

I was aware that there was a Korean version of the recipe but didn't know it used honey and malt for the base. That sounds tasty and will experiment with that next time I make Dragon's Beard again. Admittedly my the recipe I am using is very sugary.

I have seen videos on how to do it but lack the experience to do it as smoothly and precisely as they do in the videos you shared. But that would obviously change as one keeps making the candy, I did mention that me and my sister are amateurs at making it.

Thanks for leaving a comment :)

“Kkul Tarae (honey skein) is a court cake made of ripened honey and malt which was once presented to the king and valuable guests. It is brewed with artisan spirit to make 16,000 strand suggesting the prayer for longevity, health, god fortune and wish-fulfillment. It is not much sweet, not sticky to teeth, but enjoyable with various tastes according to garnishings. It can taste better with teas as it is cold and frozen.”

HELLO THERE!! I am looking for recipe for ginger chew can anybody help me? I want them taste like chimes or gin gin

MZ210 months ago

just want to know why the candy I made is like rock, even I use the candy while warm the middle is warm enough to pull but the surface still hard and it breaks.

are u able to assist

MZ210 months ago

just want to know why the candy I made is like rock, even I use the candy while warm the middle is warm enough to pull but the surface still hard and it breaks.

are u able to assist

babu371 year ago
Loved the tip on using those silicone molds, definitely made it easier. I mixed the recipe up a bit, and used these ratios to make it easier to get a good 'puck':
50g Maltose
500g Sugar
250g Water
1/2 tsp White Vinegar
100g Corn Syrup
My only question is do you think I could freeze them? I don't want to make them all and then have them go to waste. If not I know some office people and friends are going to get spoiled!
zidthekid (author)  babu371 year ago
Hi :)

Never occurred to me to freeze them before, the "hairs" are just sugar which preserves itself. The rice or corn flour and the chosen filling would be an issue..... I have seen them last about a week in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Unfortunately your guess is as good as mine.... I suppose try freeze a small amount in maybe a ziplock bag with the air sucked out as much as possible to lessen the chance of frost and when you want to eat them just let them get back up to room temperature on their own.

Hi, My biggest problem is that my mix gets to hard. I tried not making it to hot or make it hotter. Bolth result in a hard as a rock mix. Therefore i cannot do anything with it:( I dont understand why... And it really sucks hahaha. I have to keep cleaning up...
timbit19852 years ago
The phase change is called latent heat of fusion, and is a PHYSICAL process not a chemical. A general rule of thumb, is that chemical changes are not easily reversible where as physical changes are. If you were to cool liquid sugar, it would form a solid again :) Nice instructable.
gengelmann3 years ago
I got a version of this in Korea when I was younger and I've always wondered how to make it.

I live in Colorado, so the altitude is extremely high.. When I tried making this candy, I had it at a medium heat and set the timer for 25 minutes. It got up to about 200 degrees Fahrenheit before it stopped moving, and it stopped moving for about five minutes. I let it sit for a while longer before turning up the heat a little bit, and it still didn't move for another five minutes. At this point, it's been about 30 minutes and it still hadn't moved from 200. Finally, I turned up the heat a bit more and it reached 269 and I killed the heat and took it off. It had probably been cooking about 40 minutes.

When it cooled down, it was hard as a rock, white, and crusty. Is that because I let it cook too long? Should I start with a higher heat so it stays within the 20-25 minute range, or will the candy just not work period because I'm at a high (and very dry) altitude?
When any candy recipe *claims* that they want you to cook a sugar/water mix until it reaches some specific temperature, what they *actually* want you to do is to cook it until it reaches some particular ratio of sugar to water.

At sea level, for any desired sugar/water ratio, one can start with a dilute mix of sugar in water, then cook until it reaches some particular temperature -- the higher the ratio of sugar to water, the higher the temperature.

At high altitudes, water boils at lower temperatures. Also, sugar/water mixtures boil at lower temperatures.

Thus, to achieve the proper sugar/water ratio that the recipe actually wants, you need to decrease the temperature to which you cook the candy.

If, at high altitude, you cook your candy to the same temperature called for in a recipe meant to sea level, the results will be very overcooked.

There's probably a formula you can use for adapting candy recipes for high altitudes... I would suggest doing a google search for "high altitude candy making" (without quotes).

mybrowning3 years ago
Love this tutorial! Thanks!
Does anyone know the recipe for Kukul Tarae that uses HONEY? I understand that they main ingredients are honey and some sort of liquid malt. I'd love to use honey instead of sugar/corn syrup. Any help appreciated!
How much will this make exactly?
zidthekid (author)  Cinder Dragon3 years ago
Hm... depends on how small or fine you can make the hairs. I got about..... 12 of those clear plastic disposeable containers in the first or third picture.

Should get a little more than me since I made mistakes with one or two pucks and I know for sure I experimented with one of the pucks to see what happens if I just kept on going pulling it. Comes out tasting like cotton candy but with a nougat texture.
neanderthal4 years ago
Turkish "pişmaniye" :)

Oil, flour, sugar, lemon juice made from one type of halva is synonymous with our provinces and Izmit. Although originally from Izmit to a sweet way to ask why everyone falls in with a gift that can be counted, is much loved by the fans, like those Not that I hate where our country has a distinctive flavor.

Time to one of the gyro, the sultan's daughter also had a very nice ... This gyro without seeing the sultan's daughter fell in love ... The sultan had heard this angry and wanted to rest a gyro ... gyro, the sultan's presence, even love, afraid to tell absence, the sultan her daughter's hair, the wire than a thin sweet it can forgive him going, even her marriage would, but fails to kill him said, gyro working for a time after the Pişmaniye you have done ... The hair was thinner than she really wires and the sultan's daughter who agreed to give the gyro ... gyro Sultan's daughter saw the wedding day ... The poor girl was nearly 150 pounds ... gyro, so I have created a sweet regret not to forget that Pişmaniye also wanted to be...

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pismaniye :D
where are you from
zidthekid (author)  spankeerrrrrrr4 years ago
I'm from Malaysia. Hope you've heard of it before :D
Aegian24244 years ago
could you use homemade "corn syrup" for that? a corn syrup substitube used for making homemade marshmellows.
or could you use rice syrup?
zidthekid (author)  Aegian24244 years ago
I don't see why not, as long as you are able to get that hair-like consistency in the end it should be ok. From my limited understanding of the recipe, it is a pretty robust recipe.

I have never used nor made homemade "corn syrup" or rice syrup. Corn syrup substitute ought to work but I've never tried. Though technically I substituted maltose for corn syrup cause at the time I couldn't find it and wasn't sure if it was kosher.

Do tell me how it turns out so that everyone reading the comments can be informed if homemade substitutes work. Thanks in advance :)
I used barley malt syrup (something like maltose syrup) but that just bubbled over the sides of the sauce pan even at the lovest temperature so I ended that...
This is AWESOME! I've seen street vendors make it and I always thought it would be impossible to do myself. You give me hope. Very cool!
eulaliaaaa!4 years ago
My candy string dried up and got crumbly. The pucks are fine, though. What could be wrong? They were only out (In a plastic bag and on the counter) for about 2 hours.
zidthekid (author)  eulaliaaaa!4 years ago
Hi :)

Sorry to hear that your candy dried up :(

I generally don't have that issue because my country is very humid and have to use desiccant packets to keep it from being sticky when I store it. But the candy drying up is to be expected but not in that short of a time span.

I suppose you could try going a little easy on the cornstarch and see if that helps.

I'll try to find a solution to your problem.
Okay. Good thing I still have two pucks!
finfan74 years ago
If you use the peanut powder in place of or in combination with the cornstarch, you'll get the flavour through the whole thing without the extra step.
zidthekid (author)  finfan74 years ago
That sounds like a good idea, thanks :)

huang966324 years ago
Nice share!

Actually, we in Indonesia have exactly the same kind of candy but unfortunately I don't know the name of the candy. The last time I ate that candy is when I was 8 years old!. The maker can make it with no mess at all. I envy him :D
corey114 years ago
HELP!!!! I used a muffin mold, and the pucks wont come out!!! i even oiled the molds too! Its metal, and they wont come out!!! How do i get them out?????????
zidthekid (author)  corey114 years ago
oh dear.... this is why I said to use silicone muffin molds or disposable plastic containers.

Let's see if I can help..... you could try running hot water on the underside of the muffin mold. That might soften the bottom and sides of the puck enough for you to pull it out.

You could also try boiling it in water if you have a large enough pot. That ought to dissolve the pucks back into syrup. Steaming might work as well.

Baking and/or microwaving is a not recommended, it might turn the pucks from soft candy into hard candy.

I hope this helps, let me know if these ideas work.


Phew, that was a close one. I got them out, i took a cleaned nail and poked it into one side at a time and pried up, and eventually i got all the pucks out like this, Im glad i oiled the pan, otherwise, i might no have been so fortunate. (Sorry if some spelling is off, i accidentally stuck my finger in a vaccuum motor while it was running. Im lucky i didnt lose it)
Cirdan4 years ago
What an excellent instructable, Zid! Many thanks for sharing. I've watched videos on Youtube of how the old masters made the candy, and now you've given me a recipe to start with. I can't wait to start making it!
zidthekid (author)  Cirdan4 years ago
Thank you so much for those kind words and hope that you will enjoy making these :)
That's really interesting.

Now, I know that some sweets are made on an industrial scale by pressing male molds into a tray of cornstarch, the sugary sweet mixture is then pored into the resulting female mold just in the cornstarch, (I think this is for the "gummy" type sweets). I wonder if this technique might work for making the original "puck" if one doesn't have silicone doughnut molds.
zidthekid (author)  Dream Dragon4 years ago
It's worth a try, I was just lucky I managed to find those silicone molds. I am assuming you mean putting a layer of cornstarch on the mold before pouring in the syrup so that it's easier to take out once it's cooled down and turned into the "puck". There is the risk of the cornstarch being burned or incorporated back into the syrup and make it stick to the mold just the same, you could try veggie oil.

The first time I tried it I used cheap disposable plastic containers that I could break or cut off the puck, then I had to punch a hole manually through the "puck". The use of silicone baking molds was a recent idea that turned out great.
No, what they mean is like making a pile of cornstarch on the table (or whatever) and pressing a doughnut shaped item into it to make a sort of mold. It is what they use to make things like jelly beans and gummi bears. I haven't tried making this yet but I would assume it would work. Like the rest of the process it would likely just take trial and error to get it to work right. Like on http://www.instructables.com/id/Corn-Starch-Candy-Mold-Lessons-learned/step4/New-mold-type-Lego/

I hope this helps :D
That's EXACTLY what I had in mind. Thank you for posting that, and for your own fascinating exploration of this tricky topic.
I discussed this with my mom, who has made this type of candy before, and she said no, this won't work. The cornstarch would draw out way too much moisture from the candy. It was an awesome idea though, i thought it would work.
zidthekid (author)  Dream Dragon4 years ago
Thanks Rayney, I did not quite understand Dream Dragon's question and your explanation clears it up.
Just made some. This stuff ranks very high on the "sticks to your fillings" scale.

Make sure you keep the thickness even all the time, and lengthen the donut by squeezing rather than stretching.
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