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Red Date Walnut Candy

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Sweet and sticky Red Date Walnut Candy is gluten-free and refined sugar-free so you can enjoy homemade, healthier versions of candy a little more guiltlessly.

red date walnut candy

Today’s recipe is a little bit different than my usual recipe posts. It’s candy with healthy benefits. It proves that you can have your candy without guilt! 

This Red Date Walnut Candy is very famous in China since it is reputed to be healthy and tasty. It is often served in the Chinese New Year treat boxes to entertain guests while sipping hot tea.

It tastes sweet, soft, and chewy from the red date paste with a contrast crunchy texture from the added walnuts. The sugar comes from the natural sweetness of red dates and maltose, making this candy refined sugar-free. It is also completely gluten-free and you can easily adjust the recipe to make it vegan. 

About Red Date and Its Health Benefits

Red dates or jujube are one of the most popular health foods in China. Once dried, red dates are wrinkled and changed into maroon-colored fruits. They are soft on the outside with a sweet smell and moist inside. These plump red fruits are called a date because of their similar texture and size to the Middle Eastern brown date. They have been regarded as one of the most nutritional ingredients even during ancient times. Chinese people treat red dates not only as food but also as a health tonic. Moreover, people also enjoy adding red dates to dishes and drinks as sweeteners, reaping their natural health benefits.

According to the values of Chinese traditional medicine, red dates help to nourish the yin (cold) and replenish the yang (heat) in the body to balance the qi. They contain vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, organic acids, as well as a trace of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and iron. They are said to boost the production of white blood cells which helps to improve the body’s immune system to fend off sickness. Therefore, they are believed to suppress cancer cells and protect the body when consuming harsher herbal medication. They are also very popular among women as they contain a great source of antioxidants and have anti-aging properties, as well as aiding the skin to be rosier, smoother, and fairer.

red dates and walnuts

About Walnut and Its Healthy Benefits

Walnuts are the wrinkly dried, ripe nut that is the fruit of the walnut tree. They grow in a hard shell, which when opened reveals the brain-like-shaped walnut. They contain vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin E, as well as minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and zinc. Like all nuts, walnuts contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, whereas walnuts have higher omega-3 fatty acids. Not only does your body need these fatty acids to function, but they also deliver some big health benefits.

After thousands of years of observation and recorded experience as Chinese herbal medicines, walnuts have been shown to have very specific therapeutic effects on the human body. Walnuts are associated with the lung, large intestine, and kidney meridians, and have sweet and warm properties. They have tonifying and harmonizing properties, as well as great ingredients used for treating cold conditions. Therefore, they are great to tonify the kidneys, nourish the blood, warm the lungs, and moisten the intestines. Typically, walnuts are used to treat impotence, sexual dysfunctions, infertility, back and leg pain, constipation, and asthma.

Walnuts are also known as the top nut for brain health. It is no coincidence that these brain-shaped nuts can provide optimal brain benefits. The omega-3 fatty acid in walnuts has been shown to improve cognitive performance in adults and prevent age-related cognitive decline. Recent evidence suggests that walnuts may play a role in lowering blood cholesterol levels, thus reducing the incidence of some forms of heart disease.

Ingredients to Make Red Date Walnut Candy

  • Red Dates. Look for red dates which are full, thick, with a bright maroonish appearance. I usually choose the biggest dried red dates I can find because they are much easier and faster to pit.
  • Walnuts. Walnuts are a must and the candy won’t taste the same if you omit it.
  • Maltose. Maltose is an all-natural sweetener originating in China produced from distilling fermented grains, usually rice and malt. Even when maltose is derived from barley malt it can be considered gluten-free because the malt has been processed to remove gluten and the resulting maltose meets gluten-free standards. Since ancient times, the Chinese used maltose as a light medicinal treat for better digestion and a healthier immune system even to this day. Maltose is also an excellent source of energy due to its higher glycemic index, which makes it a great pre-workout or post-workout snack ingredient!
  • Tapioca Flour. Tapioca is used to thicken the red date puree into a paste and makes the candy soft and chewy. You can substitute it with other starch, such as corn starch and potato starch.
  • Butter or oil. Use butter for better flavor, but any kind of neutral-flavor oil will also work. Oil is added to create that shine, smoothness, and adding some moisture to the paste so it does not taste too dry.
red date walnut candy

How to Store the Candies

These candies can be store in an air-tight container at room temperature for about 1-2 weeks. If you want to make it last longer, store it in the fridge. They should last for about 1 month. If you are living in hot weather, I recommend storing it in the fridge to prevent it from getting soft.

red date walnut candy

More Chinese Dessert Recipes

While you are here, don’t forget to check out also these Chinese dessert recipes!

red date walnut candy
4.8 from 6 votes

Red Date Walnut Candy

Sweet and sticky Red Date Walnut Candy is gluten-free and refined sugar-free so you can enjoy homemade, healthier versions of candy a little more guiltlessly.
Author: Jaja Bakes
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Chinese
Servings: 20 pieces
Tap or hover to scale!
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time1 hour

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Toast walnuts in the oven (350F/180°C) or over the stovetop until cooked for about 5-8 minutes. Set aside.
  • Cut red dates into small pieces with a knife or scissor. Remove the seed.
  • In a blender or food processor, blend the red dates with 400 gr water until smooth.
  • In a small bowl, mix tapioca flour with 100 gr water until well incorporated. Set aside.
  • Pour the blended red dates into a large non-stick pan. Stir in maltose and butter/oil into the mixture. Turn on the heat to low-medium heat and cook until the mixture thickens slightly for about 10 minutes. Make sure to keep stirring the mixture with a silicone spatula to prevent the bottom from burning.
  • Pour the tapioca slurry into the mixture and immediately stir to combine. Cook the mixture until it thickens and turns doughy for another 25-30 minutes. Keep stirring the mixture during cooking.
  • Add toasted walnuts into the red date dough and stir until well combined. Turn off the heat. Cool the mixture slightly before shaping it.
  • Pour the dough on the center of a waxed paper/parchment paper/silicone mat. Spread the dough with a spatula roughly. Fold the paper or mat over the dough. Use a rolling pin to press down and smooth the candy out into a square or rectangle of dough that's about 3/4-inch (2 cm) thick.
  • Let the mixture cool completely. Chill the shaped dough for 2 hours or more in the refrigerator.
  • When ready to cut, remove the paper from the dough. Grease a sharp knife with oil. Cut the dough into 3/4×2-inch (2×5 cm) pieces.
  • Use edible rice papers to wrap candies if desired and store them in an airtight container.

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4.84 from 6 votes (6 ratings without comment)

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5 Comments

    1. I think the temperature of the mixture doesn’t matter in this case. Just keep the heat low-medium when you cook the mixture. High heat will make the bottom scorch. You know it’s ready when the mixture turns thick and doughy. The thicker and heavier they are, the better. If you stop cooking the mixture when it is not thick enough, the candy will be too soft and sticky.

  1. I tried this recipe and it tastes so good! One question. Mine didn’t harden at the end as much as I hoped and I can not cut it. Any way to save this?

    1. I am sorry for the super late reply. I think you can put the dough back into the pan with a little bit of water. Then, cook it again until the dough is thick and doughy.