Once setting your foot in the prosperous land of the Mekong Delta, don't hesitate to give the incredible local food a try. For a sweet tooth, that means you should never miss the sticky, chewy, yet tasty thing called the Vietnamese coconut candy.
First introduced in the 1930s, Vietnamese coconut candy is the creation of Ms. Nguyen Thi Ngoc in Ben Tre Province - the so-called “Kingdom of Coconut". But it was not until 1970 that Thanh Long - the first factory of this sweet - appeared and the industry has flourished since then.
Nowadays, more than a hundred factories in Ben Tre produce this confectionary, making an association of coconut candy suppliers. Interestingly, this specialty is not only delivered throughout the country but also exported to China, Laos, Australia, Germany, Sweden, etc.
Coconut trees - a typical image of Ben Tre
Traditionally, Vietnamese coconut candy is only made of three ingredients: coconut, sugar, and malt. However, creating this small bite-sized bonbon is far from easy. People have to follow certain requirements and steps as follow:
First, picking coconuts is undoubtedly crucial in making Vietnamese coconut candy. The chosen ones should be old with hard and thick flesh, unlike those used for fresh coconut water
A special machine squeezes the chosen coconut to take the copra. Then fresh coconut milk is extracted from it
Next, the milk is boiled with sugar and malt. Thanks to these machines, laborers no longer have to stand by a burning stove and stir the mixture until it is thick
After that, the mixture is poured into molds, covered by a thin oil layer and left to dry
People peel dried candies off the molds and cut them into pieces
The sweets are wrapped with transparent rice papers, which are edible but often mistaken with normal plastic wraps. Finally, they go into boxes and are ready to sell
This one is made from simple ingredients with the same process as above. It is sometimes called “durian-free coconut candy" so don't be surprised if the seller gives you a package with this name.
Its look is quite similar to the durian coconut candy
As a combination of two aromatic fruits, this type of candy brings you both the sweet, greasy taste of coconut and the mesmerizing durian smell. Since some stores offer a special version with added peanuts, make sure you choose the non-peanut pack if you have an allergy.
At present, durian is the most popular flavor of the Vietnamese coconut candy
Pandan is widely used as the odorant of Vietnamese sweets and coconut candy is not an exception. Unlike the strong taste of taro, durian, or cocoa, this flavor is mild; therefore keeps much of the original taste. Like the durian version, this one is a common souvenir among Mekong Delta visitors.
The candy's vibrant look
For those curious about Vietnamese coconut candy but are afraid of its strong smell, this new creation might be a good choice. Apart from its captivating purple look, the distinctive taste of taro with coconut is what you should opt for.
The signature purple box of this candy
With one brown side containing cocoa and the yellow side representing durian, the candy creates an appealing taste to try. If you want a safe choice for your first time trying the Vietnamese coconut candy, pick this one and you won't regret.
Dear cocoa fans, this is certainly what you should go for!
For a better taste, enjoy Vietnamese coconut candy with a cup of tea
The 50-year-old Thanh Long has more than just a myriad of coconut candy. It offers diverse products like milk rice paper, sugar apple candy, banana candy, and so on. Visiting its showroom, you will be introduced to the production line and given delicious samples.
Price: VND 30,000 - VND 50,000
A new year version of Thanh Long coconut candy
This brand is famous not only for its sweet taste but also for the lawsuit in 2004. Mrs. Hai To, the brand's owner, came to China to prove coconut candy is from Ben Tre. And to protect the products, her picture is now printed on the candy package apart from the logo.
Price: VND 35,000 - VND 70,000
The "Old Lady with two glasses" is another way to call Ba To brand
Yen Huong has existed for over 30 years and it is loved due to the original flavor of coconut. Also, Yen Huong has a reputation for banana candy which is another of Ben Tre’s products.
Price: VND 35,000 - VND 70,000
A box of Yen Huong coconut candy
Unlike the aforementioned names which produce and specialize in Vietnamese coconut candy, this store offers you a wide range of sweets from the North to the South. Besides, it provides many different brands of each product for you to choose from.
Opening hours: 7:30 AM - 7:30 PM
Price: VND 30,000 - 45,000
To wrap up about Vietnamese coconut candy, “cheap” and “unique” is all you need to say! With the proper package and portable shape, this is such a suitable candidate for your choice of souvenirs. For a closer look at this confectionary, tour the Mekong Delta to try making it first-hand and discover the beauty of this vigorous land.
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© Written by Uyen Ho for itourvn.com