This recipe is easy, but I highly recommend you watch the video first as it’s immensely helpful to see what they’re supposed to look like at each stage.
- 200 g raw, skin-on peanuts
- 160 g sugar
- 2 tsp Ovaltine powder, Milo powder, or 1 tsp cocoa powder (see note)
- ½ – 1 tsp instant coffee granules (optional, see note)
- ¼ cup coconut milk
- ⅓ cup water
- ½ tsp fine salt
- 2 Tbsp white sesame seeds, toasted
- Ovaltine or Milo are chocolate malt drink mix powders that are popular in Asia. If you don’t have it, just use half the amount of cocoa powder. There’s no need to buy a whole jar for this recipe, unless of course you wanna try it! The drinks themselves are super yum and kids adore them, and I like to sprinkle the the powder on toast with some condensed milk!
- ½ tsp coffee granules will give a little extra depth of flavour, but if you actually want to taste the coffee, add 1 tsp. The measurement is for instant coffee granules like Nescafe, if using Starbucks Via you will probably need only half of a sachet.
- If you want to make a big batch, don’t scale up the water proportionally; add just enough water to cover the peanuts. Keep in mind that the more you make the longer it will take to evaporate all the liquid.
- Spread the peanuts onto a plate and pick out any that look “unwell” (remember to replace them with healthy ones so you keep the proper amount). You can also rinse them gently in cold water if you like if you think they might be dirty.
- If your sesame seeds are not yet toasted, toast them in a dry pan over medium high heat, stirring constantly until golden. Remove and set aside.
- Prepare a large baking sheet lined with parchment or silicone to put the nuts on once they are done.
- In a wok or a large pot (see note below re: choice of cookware) combine water, sugar, coconut milk, Ovaltine and instant coffee. Turn the heat on medium high and stir with a rubber spatula just until the sugar is dissolved.
- Once sugar is dissolved, add the peanuts and bring to a simmer. Turn heat to medium low to maintain a simmer, then keep cooking, stirring occasionally, until the syrup starts to thicken, about 10 minutes for this amount.
- Once the syrup looks thick, you want to be stirring all the time, scraping the bottom with the rubber spatula constantly. Keep the heat medium-low throughout.
- From this point onward, you have to really pay attention: Keep stirring until the sugar gets so thick that is starts to crystalize, and it will look at first like wet sand. Keep stirring, and eventually the sugar will look dry and powdery, and all the peanuts should be evenly coated in the sugar. DO NOT STOP STIRRING AT THIS STAGE. Sprinkle the salt on evenly over the peanuts and keep tossing.
- As you keep going, it will feel like nothing is happening for a bit, but then the sugar around the peanuts will start to melt again, and the peanuts will start to get wet spots. Once all of the peanuts have some wet spots on them, sprinkle on the sesame seeds as evenly as you can, and toss well to coat. DO NOT let the sugar liquefy too much; you want just SOME wet spots on all of the peanuts so the sesame seeds have something to stick on (see video for what this should look like).
- Once the nuts are well coated in sesame seeds, transfer onto the prepared baking sheet to cool, spreading the peanuts apart so they don’t stick to each other.
- Let cool completely before eating. These can be stored in an airtight container for several weeks, but let’s face it, they will not last that long!
Choice of cookware: Choose something you can vigorously stir in without the peanuts jumping out. A deep, bowl-shaped wok like I use in the video is perfect since there are no corners, making it easy for you to scrape the sugar. A non-stick surface is also helpful as the sugar will not stick to it and makes it easier to scrape the sugar off the pan. If you don’t have a wok, an 8- or 10-inch pot will also work – just be diligent with scraping the corners. I chose not to use my seasoned carbon steel wok because I don’t want the oil I use to season the wok and the “wok flavour” to get into the nuts – though it’s probably okay to use it.