Dulce de Mani y Ajonjoli (Peanut or Sesame Candy) is an easy-to-make and popular candy in the Dominican Republic. We've added some touches we love and made them into candy-sized pieces.
Walk into any Dominican colmado (corner store) and in some corner, you will find a jar full of Dulces de Mani y Ajonjoli (Peanut and Sesame Candies). Like many a thing, its popularity endures not despite its simplicity, but because of it.
You would think that by now, flooded as we are with imported, sophisticated candies, these would have disappeared. This is -- fortunately -- not the case, judging by the many brands competing for the nostalgic market.
Chain supermarkets, specialty stores, and airport shops now all carry these and other traditional Dominican sweets, in the past relegated to the big glass jar on colmado counters. Modern packaging, snazzy labels, and nutritional content show that what once was a small cottage industry, has now joined modernity.
I have never bought any of these from a store, but I suspect that most of them find their way into the luggage of those trying to stretch just a bit more the sweetness of visiting la tierrita, or into the suitcase of the relative who knows that this will be a gift well-received. It sure beats traveling with fruits, prepared foods and even meats, and risk a hefty fine, and the stern look of a humorless custom agent unable to comprehend just how bitter homesickness is, and just how much a taste of home sweetens it. Not that I have met anyone who does that, no, not ever.
About our recipe
I hazard a guess that not many of our readers in our home country will even bother making these. Why, if after all, they're just a corner away, should the mood strike.
But if you find yourself craving a bite of this humble candy, while you reminisce of better, happier and simpler times, in a little piece of land where it's always summer, here's our recipe.
Dulces de Mani y Ajonjoli (Peanut and Sesame Candies)
- 1 teaspoon of peanut oil (to grease the baking sheet)
- ½ cup white cane sugar
- 2 teaspoons of water
- ½ cup of roasted lightly-salted peanuts or sesame seeds (see notes)
- Prepping paper: Grease parchment paper, although Silpat (baking mat) is preferred.
- Making caramel: Mix sugar and water, stir to combine, the sugar will be just damp. Heat in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Once it starts turning into a caramel (gets darker), stir if necessary so it doesn't burn in the hots spots.
- Adding peanut/sesame: Once it turns into a thick golden brown caramel (5 -7 mins), mix in peanuts or sesame. Remove from the heat and immediately pour carefully onto the greased paper or baking sheet.
- Shaping candies: You can pour the hot mixture on the paper in small mounds, which is also a traditional presentation. If instead, you want to shape into squares, once cooler to the touch but still a bit flexible (about 4 mins), cut with a sharp knife into 1 inch [2.5 cm] squares.
- Storing: Once it's cooled to room temperature, and the caramel has hardened, store in a lidded jar at room temperature.