Garrapiñadas are an integral part of traditional street food in Argentina. For some, they are associated with street life and the holiday season. For others, it is about sweets that take them directly to their childhood.
Garrapiñadas are typical Argentine sweets that can be enjoyed in autumn and winter. Although the ingredients used to prepare them are fairly basic (sugar and peanuts), it is a matter of mastering the preparation technique and having a little patience to successfully make this recipe at home.
What are garrapiñadas?
They are also known as garrapiñada de cacahuete, garrapiñado or maní confitado. Their origin remains uncertain. However, it was not uncommon in Antiquity, especially in Egypt, to preserve fruits and dry nuts in honey.
Garrapiñadas are popular in Latin American countries such as Argentina, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, and Uruguay. Etymologically, the term garrapiñadas comes from garapiñar, which means “to dip the candies in the syrup which forms granules”.
Tips for perfect garrapiñadas
It is imperative to choose peanuts with the skin for the garrapiñadas. These must absolutely not be roasted and they have to be unsalted, because it is on the skin of the peanuts that the caramel will stick and allow the garrapiñadas to be perfect.
With roasted peanuts (even with the skin), the skin will peel off from the peanuts during the caramelization stage when mixed with a wooden spatula.
In addition, care must be taken to choose a large, thick-bottomed pan for preparing the garrapiñadas. This will facilitate the handling of peanuts during the caramelization stage. It is therefore necessary to avoid stoves or pots whose bottom is too thin. In this case, the caramel may brown too quickly. The garrapiñadas will taste like burnt caramel and the peanuts will not be cooked enough.
The garrapiñadas recipe is not a recipe for people on the go. Indeed, you must have patience to succeed and not increase the heat to speed up cooking. Indeed, the peanuts will not be cooked or crunchy. In addition, the caramel might color too quickly and it would have an unpleasant taste of burnt caramel.
The temperature of the sugar must be controlled. It is the slow evaporation of water and varying the temperature of the sugar by gently stirring the peanuts that will allow the granulation of the sugar so characteristic of garrapiñadas. This operation can take around twenty minutes.
At this time, a layer of sand will begin to form around the peanuts and settle on their skin. This stage corresponds to the crystallization of the sugar.
It is imperative to let the water evaporate completely before starting handling the peanuts. Never stop stirring. Also, it is recommended to practice on a small amount of peanuts and sugar first before embarking on a larger batch.
Use a thermometer and stop cooking around 260 to 265 F (128 to 130˚C). As soon as this temperature is reached, the peanuts can be handled gently with a wooden spatula until the caramel forms.
The variants of garrapiñadas around the world
Garrapiñadas are known around the world and many pastries and sweets are similar to them. This is the case for certain types of turrón in Spain, whose origins date back to medieval times and which are inspired by traditional Arabic cuisine. Turrón caramelo, on the other hand, does not use peanuts but almonds in its preparation.
Still in Spain, the guirlache is also a cousin of the garrapiñadas. It’s a solid Spanish candy that is eaten during the Christmas holiday. The guirlache consists mainly of almonds and caramel. It is a candy that is widely popular in the provinces of Aragon, Catalonia and Valencia. It can come between two sheets of unleavened bread in a round shape. It is then called garland torta guirlache.
In Ghana, a peanut and caramel candy is very similar to garrapiñadas. Nkate comes in the form of regular squares but is not grainy like the garrapiñadas.
- 2 cups peanuts with the skin
- 1½ cup caster sugar
- 1¼ cup water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Vegetable oil
- Saucepan with thick bottom
- Candy thermometer
- Wooden board
- Using a paper towel, spread a thin layer of vegetable oil on a wooden board and set aside.
- In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the peanuts, sugar and water.
- Cook over medium heat for about 8 minutes, stirring continuously.
- Stir in the vanilla extract and mix well.
- After caramelization, the sugar crystallizes and becomes like a kind of white sand.
- At this time, slightly increase the heat so that this sand melts, liquefies and sticks to the peanuts.
- Remove from heat and mix well.
- Transfer the caramelized peanuts to the oiled wooden board.
- Using a spatula, spread the peanuts, separating them as much as possible and allow to cool, then harden.
- Once cool, store the garrapiñadas in a glass jar in a cool place or in the refrigerator.