Fruit, but make it ... crunchy?
When Erica Kuiper first saw fellow TikToker Paola Yee (AKA @paoladyee) coat strawberries and grapes in melted candy on the social media platform, she knew she had to make the sweet treat for her daughter. So Kuiper went to work, unwrapping Jolly Rancher candies and sorting them by color, then melting the candies in the microwave to create a melty sugary fruit coating.
"I called them 'crack grapes' because when you bite into them, they crack," Kuiper tells Yahoo Life. The Topsail Island, N.C. content creator shared a TikTok of her own attempt at "crack grapes," which has since gone viral, garnering more than 20 million views. A subsequent TikTok about crack grapes, in which Kuiper gives tips for making the perfect candy-coated fruit, has received an additional 10 million views.
"This recipe is basically the easy version of tanghulu," says Kuiper. Tanghulu, a Chinese snack made from crispy fruits coated in melted sugar, has also made its rounds on social media in recent years.
Yee, who has received over 50,000 views on her own TikTok version of crack grapes, says Kuiper's comparison to tanghulu is spot on. "I was inspired by my kids that love strawberries and grapes, and their favorite candies, Jolly Ranchers and Pop Rocks," says the Carlsbad, N. Mex. mom. "Plus it's lazy tanghulu: No mess for me is a 'yes.'"
"I think part of the reason they did so well [on TikTok] is because they are fun and colorful and that crunch is everything," Kuiper adds. "Some people are loving them and then of course we have people fighting in the comments about this belonging to different cultures or people saying this is a dentist's dream."
I tried following Kuiper's viral crack grapes recipe in my own kitchen and, minus some burns from playing with dripping melted sugar, the process was fairly simple.
To make crack grapes, simply melt a few Jolly Rancher candies in the microwave in a silicone baking cup, then dip fruit stabbed onto wooden skewers into the mixture to lightly coat. While our crack grapes (and strawberries) dried for Kuiper's recommended 30 minutes time, we placed the opposite end of each stick into squares of green floral foam to hold them upright. (If you don't have green floral foam lying around, you could also lay the candy-dipped fruit on wax paper or a silicone mat to harden.)
The result was crunchy sweet fruit that although different than anything I'd ever tried, was good enough that I kept going back for more. While the outer coating does "crack," the fruit center mixes perfectly with the fruit-flavored Jolly Ranchers to create a sweet bite that can only be described as fruit-meets-candy perfection.
Like Kuiper, we added Pop Rocks to a few of our fruit creations, which tasted delicious but felt a bit dangerous during the process of combining exploding candy with hot melted sugar.
Overall, I'd make crack grapes again, perhaps with my tween and her friends, as it feels like a good way to combine colorful food with a good messy craft project.
So what are Kuiper's best tips for making crack grapes?
"It's important that the candy doesn't burn — the color will change to a very dark color if it does — and that people are careful because boiling sugar can burn and leave severe blisters," says Kuiper. "And you've gotta be quick: Dip those fruits in the Jolly Ranchers while they are very liquidy so that it's a thin layer, then into the Pop Rocks and then let them harden for 30 minutes."
Crack Grapes courtesy of Erika Kuiper (AKA @cookiterica)
Jolly Rancher hard candies, unwrapped and sorted by color
Grapes and strawberries, washed and dried well
Pop Rocks candy
Silicone baking cups
Silicone mat (for drying coated fruit)
1. Place 4-6 unwrapped Jolly Ranchers of the same color into a silicone baking cup.
2. Microwave for approximately 30 seconds until melted, but not burned.
3. Using a wooden skewer, spear a piece of fruit and dip it into the melted sugar mixture, being careful not to drip hot sugar onto skin. Coat fruit lightly with candy mixture.
4. If desired, dip freshly-coated fruit into Pop Rocks mixture.
5. Let coated fruit dry for 30 minutes on a silicone mat for the perfect crunch.
6. Repeat with other flavors of Jolly Ranchers.
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