Clearly I have an odd fascination with dragons this week. Only a few days ago I published a posted about the beautiful dragon fruit. Today, I’d like to talk about something called Dragon Beard Candy.
This confectionery treat originates from China and was once sold all over the streets. It’s made by stretching, pulling and twisting a thick, sweet syrup that has been mixed with cornstarch and rice flour. This is done multiple times to achieve long, thin strands of candy floss resembling the look of hair or cobwebs.
Once the candy is stringy enough, it is torn apart into more manageable strands. It is then filled with a coconut-peanut sugar mixture, the classic dragon beard candy filling, and then rolled up into little hay-like bundles or fluffy looking pillows. However, these days you can find other fillings too.
Dragon beard candy has a paradox of textures. It crumbles once you take a bite, but then it’s chewy in your mouth and can stick to your teeth like toffee. However, if you don’t chew it, the candy floss just melts until you are left with a center of sugary nuts. Although it looks somewhat like cotton candy, the strands are much harder, similar to the texture of dental floss only thinner and more fragile. However, don’t think for a second that this confectionery treat is superfluously sweet. Like many Asian desserts and snacks, it only has a subtle sugariness to it.
It’s best to get it when it’s fresh because it doesn’t have a long lifespan. The minute it hits moisture, dragon beard candy starts to get hard and gunky. It’s definitely an art form that you don’t see that often anymore, which is unfortunate because it’s really neat to see it being made. However, despite the fact dragons are normally known to protect precious goods, I’m fortunate that every now and then a dragon beard candy master pops up willing to share his (or her) treasure. 🙂