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Recipe #59: Dulce de Tamarindo (Tamarind Candy)

Posted Jan 21 2010 12:00am

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
(Optional ingredient: 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. Optional step: 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?!

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