Sesame candy is a quick and easy treat that only requires four ingredients. This version has less sugar and adds nuts for extra flavor and crunch.
Sesame candy (芝麻糖) is one of many variations of Chinese candies. Peanuts, pumpkin seeds, rice crisps, and more are also made into sweets using the same technique. First, the seeds, nuts, or other fillings are mixed together with melted sugar. Sometimes, maltose, oil, or other liquid sweeteners are added to the sugar as well. Then, the candy is shaped and cut into the desired shape. Some people like the candy thick like a bar, while others like it thin like a cracker. In China, you can watch street food vendors shape these candies into large sheets and cut them into bite-sized pieces.
This sesame candy recipe came from my grandma, and it uses egg whites. Egg whites are not usually used in these types of candy. However, this allows the candy to use less sugar than other recipes that only use melted sugar to bind the candy together. So, this recipe is a lot healthier than other sesame seed candy recipes. Some recipes add water when melting the sugar, which requires more effort to test whether the sugar will harden correctly. So, this recipe also reduces the need to pay attention to the temperature of the melted sugar!
So, this recipe is much less brittle and sweet than a typically candy. Instead, it is tastes more like a cookie!
How to Make Sesame Candy
Prepare the Seeds/Nuts
This recipe is super flexible. For example, you can use all white or all black sesame seeds, change the type(s) of nuts used, or change the proportion of sesame seeds to nuts.
One trick that I use to make the candy more savory and flavorful is to toast the seeds and nuts first. To toast the sesame seeds, put them into a dry pan over medium heat and cook them for 3-6 minutes, or until nicely golden brown and fragrant. You can toast the black and white sesame seeds together in the same pan. You can toast the nuts in the same dry pan over medium heat for around 5 minutes or until fragrant. Or, you can also toast them in the oven for 6-7 minutes at 350F. Let the seeds and nuts cool slightly before adding them to the egg whites.
Mix the Ingredients Together
In a bowl, mix together the egg whites, sugar, and salt just until combined. Do not whisk the egg whites and sugar together vigorously (like in the second picture). Then, mix in the sesame seeds and nuts.
Bake the Sesame Candy
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour the mixture into the baking sheet and spread it out into a rectangle of your desired thickness. I would not recommend making the candy more than half an inch thick, or the candy will need more time to bake. A 1/2” thickness is about the size of a 9” x 13” baking pan. Press down firmly on the sesame candy to compact the mixture. The more compact the candy is, the crispier it will be after baking. This technique will also make cutting the candy easier and less messy. Bake the candy at 300F for one hour.
Cut the Candy
Once done baking, remove the candy from the baking sheet and immediately cut it into bite-sized pieces. It is best to cut the candy while it is still warm because it will hold together better. Let the sesame candy cool completely before storing it in an air-tight container. The sesame candy can be stored for up to one month in a cool, dry place.
Sesame Candy (芝麻糖)
- 2 cups black sesame seeds (290 grams)
- 1/2 cup white sesame seeds (55 grams)
- 1 cup walnuts (100 grams, can use any other nuts)
- 3 egg whites
- 2/3 cup sugar (133 grams)
- pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Line a large 9" x 13" baking sheet with parchment paper. Note 1
- (Optional, but recommended) If you are using raw sesame seeds, toast them in a dry pan over medium heat for 3-6 minutes until fragrant. Set aside to cool. Also toast the walnuts (or any other nuts) in the pan until browned and fragrant, around 5 minutes. Roughly chop the walnuts and set aside to cool. Note 2
- In a bowl, add the egg whites, sugar, and salt. Mix until just combined. Do not whisk or incorporate any air.
- Add the sesame seeds and walnuts to the bowl. Mix well to combine.
- Pour the mixture into the lined baking sheet. Press down firmly to make sure the candy is compact. Note 3
- Bake the candy for 1 hour.
- Remove the candy from the oven and use a sharp knife to cut it immediately into squares. The candy is easiest to cut when warm.
- Let the candy cool before storing in an air-tight container. The sesame snack can be stored for up to a month in a cool, dry place.
- If you do not have a 9″ by 13″ inch baking sheet, you can also use any other baking pan. The cooking time may vary based on the pan size. For example, you may want to divide the candy among two 8″ by 8″ pans so that the candy is not too thick. If the thickness goes over 1/2″, I would advise baking for a longer time.
- If you are using toasted sesame seeds, you can still toast them again for a minute or so to bring out more flavor. For nuts, you can also bake them in a 350F oven for 6-7 minutes.
- Make sure the candy is very compact so that it is less prone to falling apart when you cut it. It will also help to make the texture crisper.