Burrrr!! It is so cold out. With work canceled and a crazy snow storm raging outside, I decided it is the perfect time to make one of my beau’s favorite traditional Korean winter sweet-treats. Today we are going to learn how to make Korean 뽑기 Ppopgi (also known as Dalgona)! YAY!!!!
Note: Before we dive into this post, if you would also like to learn how to make dalgona coffee, you can find my post about the yummy drink here!! Dalgona coffee is named after this toffee, honeycomb like Korean treat. It started trending during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Now, everyone knows how to make this slightly bitter, but also sweet drink.
Now, let’s jump right into learning about ppopgi, the South Korean sweet street treat.
When my beau was in elementary school, there was a ppopgi vender on every street corner during those cold winter months. This cookie candy was popular from the 70’s through the 90’s. Ppopgi is still sold on the streets of South Korea, but it is now known as “retro candy.” While growing up, my beau would often stop at the vendor’s with his friends. They would each pick a shape they wished for their cookie cutter imprint. In the mix there were swords, airplanes, hearts, flowers, etc to choose from. After imprinting the shape, my beau and his friends would try to eat the mold out of the sugary sweet cookie treat. Every vendor had the same promise: if you could eat around the shape without the cookie shattering, you would get another cookie for free. It is honestly an almost impossible task.
The ingredients and process for making these cookies is really simple and easy. The ingredients are just sugar and baking soda. Besides this, you just need patience… a lot of patience. First, you must melt down the sugar in a ladle by holding it over the stove in the kitchen at medium low heat (a camping fire or fireplace work too). As the sugar melts, you must continuously stir. If you do not, the sugar will burn at the bottom of the ladle. This portion can take a good 5 or 10 minutes. Just be patient and keep on stirring!
Once the sugar completely melts, add in a little bit of baking soda as you continue to stir. When the mixture fully expands and the color changes to light brown, remove it from the heat. If it starts to turn into a darker brown, you have started to burn the mixture.
Quickly pour the mixture onto the tray (if you would like to add some sweetness, sprinkle some sugar onto the tray before you start the process) and press the cookie treat down with the stamp and the cookie cutout. Do not let the cookie cutter cut all the way through. You are just using it to make an imprint. Quickly lift the stamp and pull the cookie cutter out of the cookie. Do not linger or it will stick! Once completely cooled, scrape the sugar treat off the tray with the scraper. Repeat for more sugar cookies and enjoy!
The texture changes quickly as it cools. When eaten warm, it is chewy and sticky. But, as it cools, it becomes brittle and light. The cooling process only takes a few seconds so you must be quick to press out the shape. Honestly, I am still trying to find the balance of speed and making a beautiful ppopgi.
When I first tasted Ppopgi I was extremely surprised by the flavor. The candy is sweet with a bitter taste. In some ways the ppopgi is reminiscent of burnt marshmallows or s’mores. At first I was taken aback. It is not a favor usually enjoyed here in the United States. But once the flavor settled on my tongue, I could not get enough of these sweet treats!
My beau’s mother gave me my Ppopgi set. He used this set to make ppopgi with his mother when he was young. His mother taught him, and he taught me. Now I am teaching you! I hope you have fun making this yummy treat! You can use a normal household ladle, or simply buy a pre-made set on Amazon. You can also find ppopgi sets with decent quality on G-market, a Korean version of Amazon that ships to the United States.
If you want to learn more about Korean food and culture, you should check out our recent post about Chuseok(추석), which is Korean Thanksgiving. Stay warm everyone! And Happy New Year!
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