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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27 Comments:

  1. celinetann singapore joined 11/14 & has 1 comment

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

  2. aida_mella Kuching, Sarawak joined 10/14 & has 1 comment

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

  3. sanne Munich joined 8/14 & has 268 comments

    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 joined 4/14 & has 1 comment

    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! (:

  5. TyraEXO Malaysia joined 3/14 & has 1 comment

    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 joined 1/14 & has 5 comments

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

  7. HyeNa New York joined 12/13 & has 6 comments

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

  8. holyfolly Singapore joined 12/13 & has 2 comments

    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 joined 12/13 & has 2 comments

      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 joined 7/11 & has 1 comment

    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 joined 11/12 & has 10 comments

    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 joined 9/13 & has 35 comments

    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 joined 8/13 & has 1 comment

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

  13. DinoJong90 MN joined 11/13 & has 1 comment

    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 joined 6/11 & has 15 comments

    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 joined 6/11 & has 6 comments

    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.

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