If you’ve seen the popular Netflix series Squid Game, then you’re also aware of the Korean candy called ppopgi, or dalgona.
In the show, cash-strapped contestants compete for the equivalent of about 33 million U.S. dollars. In this high-stakes game of life or death, contestants have to break off the outside of a candy disc made from cooked sugar while leaving the shape in the middle intact.
History of Dalgona Candy
Dalgona candy became popular in South Korea post-World War II after American soldiers started handing out candy to kids on the street.
Not having a tradition of making or consuming Western-style candies, some street vendors started making candy of their own to sell.
JinJoo from the Kimchimari blog talks a little about the history and her own memories of having the sweet as a kid. According to her, there is a slight difference between dalgona and ppopgi.
Ppopji (what we will be making in the recipe below) is made with cooked sugar while dalgona was traditionally made with cooked glucose. Of course, both of these are sugars, but they do have slightly different textures. AND both use baking soda and heat to make a very simple kind of caramelized brittle candy.
Now if you want to get fancy, there are special kits you can buy to make this at home, but they really aren’t necessary. All you’ll need are a ladle for cooking the sugar and a disposable chopstick for stirring.
Ingredient and time-wise, dalgona is a cinch. It’s just baking soda and sugar — and your candy will come together in five minutes. Easy-peasy! So let’s get cooking!
Homemade Dalgona Candy
- gas stove
- parchment paper
- ladle or steel measuring cup
- disposable wooden chopstick
- 1 heaping tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 pinch baking soda
- vegetable oil for oiling the parchment paper
- Cut out two squares of parchment paper into approximately 6" squares. Lightly oil with vegetable oil. Place them on to an overturned baking pan.
- Add a heaping tablespoon of sugar into the bowl of a ladle.
- Heat the sugar over a medium flame. Moving the ladle in and out of the heat to keep the sugar from burning. Gently stir the sugar with a chopstick.
- In about 45-60 seconds you should see the edges of the sugar begin to melt. Stir the melted sugar into the dry sugar.
- Stir constantly and as the sugar begins to melt take the ladle off the heat and continue to incorporate the solid sugar.
- Once the sugar is completely melted (1-2 minutes) add a pinch of baking soda and mix it well. The syrup will lighten in color.
- Return the ladle to the heat for 3 seconds stirring constantly. The syrup should puff up.
- Immediately pour the syrup on to the greased parchment, using the chopstick to scrape out the ladle.
- Cover the syrup with the other square of parchment, oiled-side down.
- Use the bottom of a metal measuring cup to press the dalgona into a 4-5" circle.
- Immediately peel off the parchment and use a metal cookie cutter to press a shape into the candy.
- After a few minutes the candy will harden. Now, you're ready to see if you survive.
- Only use a metal cookie cutter for embossing. Plastic cutters will stick.
- This recipe was adapted from the New York Times.