You Need To Try Making Candied Cherry Tomatoes This Summer

Cherry tomatoes are the quintessential summer-blooming crop, warmed and ripened in the heat of the sun. Beloved for their use in various warm-weather recipes, the succulent fruits have a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity. Compared to grape tomatoes, which are oblong, cherry tomatoes are wonderfully round, juicier, and have a thinner skin — creating that delectable burst of refreshing flavor when you take a bite.

Though there are many ways to prepare cherry tomatoes to showcase their taste, including blistered in a pan on the stovetop or made into homemade Caprese skewers with pesto, there's a less familiar yet utterly memorable way to enjoy your summer harvest: candied cherry tomatoes. Inspired by tanghulu, a traditional Taiwanese street food commonly enjoyed at night markets, the dessert consists of skewered fruit — typically whole strawberries or cherry tomatoes stacked with dried plums — dipped in syrup which is allowed to harden into a chewy toffee-like exterior.

The resulting intensely sugary, shiny syrup coating is balanced well by the cherry tomato's earthy tartness and subtle sweetness. Furthermore, the treat is a textural delight, as crunching through the glossy exterior gives way to the burst of the cherry tomato's juice. What could be better? Candied cherry tomatoes make a unique and delicious hors d'oeuvre or appetizer to serve at any summer party when the crop is in season and perfectly ripe.

How to make your own syrupy, sweet tomatoes

Crafting your own confectionery cherry tomatoes at home is a simple and quick way to enjoy the literal fruits of summer's labor. When making candied tomatoes, remove the cherry tomatoes from the vine, leaving the stem attached if possible, then wash and dry them thoroughly. To prepare your fruit and cook station for dipping, stick your cherry tomatoes with skewers or sturdy wooden toothpicks and line a baking sheet or plate with parchment paper.

Next, make your syrup by combining ½ cup of sugar and ¼ cup of water in a saucepan. (Some chefs prefer to add a dash of vinegar to the syrup mix to help invert the sugar, dissolve the crystals, and ensure the syrup comes out smooth.) Stir the mixture over low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. You'll want to increase the heat to medium to let the syrup cook and thicken, without stirring, for between six to eight minutes, until it turns viscous and golden in color (about 302 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer).

Working quickly, remove your cooked syrup from the heat and dip the speared cherry tomatoes, submerging them completely to coat. At this point, you can also dip your tomatoes in any desired seasonings, then place them on your prepared baking sheet to dry for a couple of minutes or until the outer candy shell hardens and sets.

Get creative with your recipe

In addition to their delectably sweet, tart flavor and crunchy texture, candied cherry tomatoes are also an excellent treat for getting creative and playing around with culinary twists in the kitchen. For example, you could try dipping candied tomatoes in a blend of sesame seeds and flaky salt directly after submerging them in the syrup but before allowing the sugary coating to set. This will provide extra crunch and a beautifully savory accent to the sweetly tangy goodness of the candied tomatoes.

When making candied cherry tomatoes to serve at your next summer party or cookout, dip them in your favorite spice blends or pair them with bright, summery herbs. Once set, serve the tomatoes over individual basil leaves and drizzle with a balsamic glaze for an inventive take on the flavors of Caprese salad. Roll them in chile powder to elevate bloody marys or gazpacho. Use toothpicks to spear your tomatoes before dipping, or spear multiple tomatoes along a skewer. And of course, you can always layer them with local fresh fruits or dried plums and then submerge them in syrup to be enjoyed like the traditional Taiwanese street food dessert.