Recipes

Sugar candy

Ppopgi 뽑기

I was really surprised the first time one of my readers requested a recipe for ppopgi. I had totally forgotten about it!

When I was in elementary school in Korea, there was a ppopgi vendor outside my school every day, and I was forever tempted by him, so the request brought back a lot of good memories.

The ingredients can’t be simpler; basically just sugar and baking soda. The key to good ppopgi is all technique, timing, and patience. The candy is sweet, but also a little smoky, nutty, and bitter. You might expect it to be hard and sticky, but the baking soda makes it light, airy, and brittle. This candy has a few different regional names. When I was young, we used to call it “gukja,” which means “ladle” and refers to the ladle it was traditionally made in. It was only later that I heard it called “ppopgi” or “dalgona.”

When I was a kid, anything sweet made for an awesome snack for me and my friends. The ppopgi didn’t even have a stick; thats new technology! These days everyone is afraid to eat sugar, but back then we couldn’t get enough of it. Some of my friends even used to snack on sugar water!

After school we’d gather around the vendor and watch him melt the sugar, mix it up, add the baking soda, and make the candy. He had a few different patterns he used for the designs: a bird, a fish, a star, and a flower. And if you can eat the candy around the design without cracking it, you win a free ppopgi.

I always hoped he would firmly press the pattern into the candy and make a good strong impression that I could easily pop out, but he was so tricky. He only pressed it in for a quick second before wordlessly handing it to me. He didn’t need to explain the challenge: I knew what I was supposed to do. Preserve the shape in the middle and eat everything else. I used all kinds of techniques: nibbling, licking, pinching, but the surprising brittleness of the candy always beat me and it would shatter.

He sometimes let me clean his ladle, and I made sugar water like I show you in the video. I thought I was getting a real treat at the time!

Ppopgi is strictly a street food in Korea, but that shouldn’t stop you from making it at home and challenging your family members and friends to see if they can save the design without cracking. Try it and have fun! Let me know how it goes!

Ingredients:

  • 1½ tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon white or brown sugar
  • a pinch of baking soda

Ppopgi sugar and baking soda

Sugar and baking soda

Directions:

  1. Place sugar in a stainless steel ladle and heat it over medium heat until it starts to melt.ppopgi
  2. Stir it with a spoon so it melts evenly and doesn’t burn. Control the heat by lifting the ladle far from the heat or bringing it closer, as needed.
  3. Stir the melting sugar until it turns into a smooth, clear liquid with no lumps.ppopgi
  4. Add baking soda and continue stirring. It will expand and change from light brown to creamy golden beige.ppopgippopgi
  5. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon sugar on a cookie pan. Scrape the hot, foamy candy from the ladle onto the sugar coated cookie pan.ppopgi
  6. Place a skewer or lollipop stick in the center of the lower part of the candy, 1 inch from the edge.
  7. Press it down with any smooth, flat, non-stick object like a stainless steel bowl, lid, or a spatula.ppopgi
  8. Use a cookie cutter to press a pattern into the center of the candy. Press hard and make a good impression if you want them to break out the design easily, and press softly if you want to drive them crazy!ppopgi
  9. Wait for 1 minute until the candy gets hard. Enjoy!

Ppopgi

I made a dozen of candies at the hotel where I stayed  1 night before the shooting day. : )

Ppopki shooting at YouTube

Thanks to everyone at YouTube LA Space for filming me there,
and a special thanks to Anthony Fantano!

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24 Comments:

  1. celinetann singapore My profile page joined 11/14
    Posted November 9th, 2014 at 4:21 am | # |

    I want to make this but how long can I keep it for? Someone pls help me thankss

  2. aida_mella Kuching, Sarawak My profile page joined 10/14
    Posted October 7th, 2014 at 8:57 pm | # |

    hi maangchi. I want to ask something about the ingredient. Can I use white sugar to replace the brown sugar?thanks :)

  3. sanne Munich My profile page joined 8/14
    Posted September 17th, 2014 at 11:14 am | # |

    Hi Maangchi,

    I made this a few minutes ago, just one for fun!

    I do have a Korean gas-burner for cooking at the table. Of course!

    I used:
    – an old, not coated serving-spoon for soup to melt the sugar
    – a small, but heavy stainless pan to press down the candy (you may use a casserole)
    – a teflon-based sheet of everlasting baking-paper to pour the melted mass on
    – a cookie-cutter in the shape of a cute, smiling little devil, complete with pitch-fork – useless for cookies, but perfect for ppopgi! (bought this on Auer Dult; a special market here in Munich three timess a year).

    Guess what I’ll be preparing for Halloween … >;->

    Bye, sanne.

  4. cassidyalaska Alaska My profile page joined 4/14
    Posted April 14th, 2014 at 9:08 pm | # |

    I just made this, AMAZING! thank you! i saw it on eco showtime, and i never found a website with Easy korean recipes like this, making dinner with your help tonight! thank you! also i will use this for my girl nights, as soon as i get cookie cutters, fun and delicious game! (:

    • Maangchi New York City My profile page joined 8/08
      Posted April 14th, 2014 at 11:18 pm | # |

      Awesome! “i will use this for my girl nights, as soon as i get cookie cutters, fun and delicious game!” That’s a great idea! : )

  5. TyraEXO Malaysia My profile page joined 3/14
    Posted March 12th, 2014 at 10:27 am | # |

    Hi Maangchi :D thanks for making this!! i really want to try making ppopgi after i watched exo showtime >_< btw, can i use baking powder besides baking soda? sorry for my bad english (''-.-) ~~~

  6. Kikallez Hinterlands of Minnesota My profile page joined 1/14
    Posted January 18th, 2014 at 6:56 pm | # |

    Fun video. We just made this and it is delicious. Thanks Maangchi!

  7. HyeNa New York My profile page joined 12/13
    Posted December 16th, 2013 at 11:01 am | # |

    I saw this being made in running man. It seems pretty simple to make! Thanks for the recipe.

  8. holyfolly Singapore My profile page joined 12/13
    Posted December 10th, 2013 at 5:19 am | # |

    Hey Maangchi! Thanks so much for this! I visited korea last summer and bought it by the street of myungdong and loved it! However, I also encountered this old woman selling some bigger cubes of much softer candy that tasted very similar to this. I loved that even more but could not find it selling anywhere after that :( someone told me it’s called hopakyot but I cant seem to find it online! Do u happen to know what im referring to? Help will be much appreciated! I happen to take a picture of it but not sure how to post it here from my mobile. Let me know if u need to see it and I’ll find a way to post it up! Love from singapore :)

    • holyfolly Singapore My profile page joined 12/13
      Posted December 11th, 2013 at 4:27 am | # |

      Haha, so the candy that I’ve been looking for more than a year is found just a few hours I commented here. Watched the newest episode of the korean variety We Got Married and they carried out a traditional Korean Wedding with the candy and called it “Yeot” and just googled it and found it to be Hobakyeot instead of Hopakyot. Well it’s similar. I still hope to see a tutorial for it though it seems to be much complicated than ppopgi.

  9. christinesoprano Tokyo, Japan My profile page joined 7/11
    Posted December 1st, 2013 at 10:41 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi!
    I have been a long time fan and always look forward to trying your recipes as they come out. As a student I am usually too busy to cook every day, so at the beginning of my school terms I always make big batches of your pickles/preserves that I can eat with rice. I always have Kaennip pickles, Paechu Kimchi, kattogi, and seasoned anchovies ready to go in my fridge! I also regularly make your chijimi and savory egg :)

    When I visited my friend in Korea, a certain stew really had an impression on me. Could you make a video of Crab Stew 꽃게탕 sometime?
    Thank you!

  10. n4rit4 Montclair, NJ My profile page joined 11/12
    Posted November 30th, 2013 at 4:58 pm | # |

    Omo @Maangchi eonni … I just saw an episode of Running Man making this and your new vid pop out with Ppopgi …. I love it and I will try it right away! Jeongmal Kamsahaeyo!

  11. Zulumom Concord, CA My profile page joined 9/13
    Posted November 29th, 2013 at 5:08 pm | # |

    Wow, this is amazing that you found the perfect ladle (국자) we used to see in front of elementary school when I was a kid! Back then in my area (Chonan) we called it either 띠기 or 달고나. I thought 띠기 was funny name because you get busy 띠기-pattern (it means you tear the candy pattern to get a free candy as Maangchi offered in her video!). I do have one metal ladle so I’m gonna make it right now!!!

  12. DaebakFood United Kingdom My profile page joined 8/13
    Posted November 28th, 2013 at 3:28 pm | # |

    Wahhh!! Daebak~
    Looks so simple and easy to make!
    I’ll definitely make it soon! :D

  13. DinoJong90 MN My profile page joined 11/13
    Posted November 27th, 2013 at 5:08 pm | # |

    I literally just tried this a couple minutes ago and the first kind of burned the sugar soo…. -____- but the second time I did it, it tasted pretty good! thanks for sharing this recipe with us! MAANGCHI FIGHTING!

  14. sl100048 Singapore My profile page joined 6/11
    Posted November 26th, 2013 at 8:54 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi and Anthony – great job! You turned your cooking passion into business. I liked the show, so cute and entertaining! Hope to see another one next time. JY

  15. Fortran Alexandria, VA My profile page joined 6/11
    Posted November 26th, 2013 at 8:10 pm | # |

    It always amazes me how just about every culture has this candy. I grew up calling it “honeycomb” but it seems to have many, many names.

    • Winxrifu Maldives My profile page joined 11/13
      Posted November 27th, 2013 at 2:25 am | # |

      in Madives its called “Boahakuru” but its cooked in cocnut shell and we add red colour into it…but still kinda the same…I LOVE THEM!!! i wana make heart types and flower types too!! >.<


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