Tian Op candle in bowl
Tian Op, The Candle That Perfumes Thai Desserts

Many Westerners are new to the concept of delicately perfumed desserts smoked by a lit candle. However, it's common in Thai cuisine, and it's called tian op.

The candle is placed on a small plate in a lidded bowl or saucepan. The smoke circulates within the container and permeates the (typically already-cooked) dessert.

Tian op's flavor has been described as floral, sweet, and musky with hints of smoky caramel — but it changes based on the specific dessert and which scent the wick was soaked in.

A tian op candle works on many dessert recipes, but it shines in Thai cookies and sweet desserts such as tub tim krob and a-Lua, a creamy treat made with coconut milk.

The shape of a tian op candle facilitates a double dose of smoky perfume. Picture a horseshoe or a letter C, and imagine lighting the two curved ends.