There is one universal truth that we can all rely on: no matter where you are, the best part of any meal has to be dessert. What could be better than unwinding after a delicious meal with something that satisfies the sweet tooth or cleanses the pallet? Every culture and country has its own unique dessert offerings, and Korea is no different.
Korean dessert varies widely from region to region, but like most Korean dishes you’ll find that rice and red bean paste play important roles in these confectionary delights. Whether you’d like to re-create some delicious Korean desserts that you sampled while traveling to that part of the world, or just want to try your hand at something a little different for dessert tonight, learning how to make these Korean desserts can satisfy your craving.
We’ll go over the types of Korean desserts that you are likely to find while you’re out sampling new and exciting cuisine, and then give you a few recipes that you can try your hand at if you’re feeling up for a culinary adventure. Masitkke deuseyo! (That’s “have a great meal” in Korean)
Korean Dessert Varieties
Before you run to the kitchen, why not learn a little bit about the types of desserts that you will find in Korea? There are three main types of Korean sweets that you will find if you ever happen to travel to that part of the world: Tteok, Hangwa, and Suksilgwa. Here’s how you can tell them apart:
Tteok, or traditional rice cakes, are eaten mainly during festivals and come in a wide variety of types. They are made of pounded rice, pounded glutinous rice, or whole glutinous rice, and can be sweetened with red bean paste or other natural sweeteners like honey or sesame. If you are observing a gluten-free diet, you’ll want to learn how to substitute the ingredients you need with a short course on gluten-free cooking if you plan to make tteok.
Hangwa is a blanket term for confectionary items that can serve as Korean dessert. These are made with flour or even edible roots, and can be fried. Some types of hangwa are what is known as dasik, or tea food, and still others fall into the yakgwa, or medicinal sweet variety. Most of the sweets and desserts that you will find in Korea are this type of scrumptious confection, and there is a variety of hangwa to satisfy any sweet tooth.
Finally we have suksilgwa, which is made from fruit and nuts and usually flavored with ginger. Suksilgwa is primarily made by boiling the ingredients and shaping them into different ornamental shapes like flowers. Jeonggwa is a type of suksilgwa that closely resembles jam or jelly.
Now on to the good part, the Korean dessert recipes!
Sweet Rice Corn Hotteok
This is a very common treat that falls under the rice cake or tteok type of Korean dessert. For this you’ll make a dough and a filling.
- Flour-1 and 2/3 of a cup
- Sweet Rice Flour-3/4 cup
- Corn Flour-3/4 cup
- Yeast- 1 tbsp.
- Granulated Sugar- 1 tbsp.
- Salt- 1/2 tsp.
- Milk (warmed)- 1 1/2 cup
- Canola Oil- 1 tbsp.
- Brown Sugar- 1 1/4 cup
- Peanuts (Chopped Fine)- 5 tbsp.
- Oil to Fry
- Mix all of the dry ingredients except peanuts until they are well blended.
- Add the oil and the milk to the flour mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon and cover, allowing the yeast rice for one hour.
- Combine the brown sugar peanuts and cinnamon if you desire until well blended.
- Pour oil into frying pan and heat over medium flame.
- Take a section of dough and flatten it between your hands.
- Place 1 tablespoon of brown sugar mixture in the middle. Bring the corners up to form a ball and pinch closed.
- Place in the hot oil and press with a spatula to create a flat disk.
- Fry each side for three minutes until golden brown.
- Removed from oil and allow to drain, make sure you serve it hot!
Yakgwa is similar to the hotteok we just went over, but is considered to be medicinal. What a sweet added bonus! It is flavored with honey and is very tasty. You may wish to use a frying oil that is not derived from peanuts if you have a peanut allergy. Just be sure to choose an oil that is both mild, and has a similar smoke point, like corn or vegetable oil.
- Wheat Flour- 1 cup
- Baking Powder- 1 tbsp.
- Sesame Oil- 2 tbsp.
- Honey- 1 cup and 2 tbsp, divided
- Rice Wine- 2 tbsp.
- Salt- 1/4 tsp.
- Ginger (shredded) 1 tbsp.
- Cinnamon 1/4 + 1/4 tsp., divided
- Peanut Oil- 4 cups
- Water- 1/2 cup
- Sift the wheat flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl.
- Combine 2 tablespoons of honey, the sesame oil, the wine, the salts, and one half of the cinnamon.
- Pour that mixture over the flour mixture and knead lightly.
- Roll the dough out.
- Use a round cookie-cutter and press it into the dough.
- Heat the oil over low heat.
- Fried the cookies for 15 minutes, until the cookies rise to the surface.
- Flip the cookies over and fry them for five more minutes.
- Removed from oil and drain.
- Mix remaining honey, cinnamon, and water to form a syrup, and let the cookies soak in the mixture for about 6 hours. You can top your yakgwa if you like; lots of people like to add the crunch of pine nuts to this Korean dessert.
Hopefully these recipes will help sate your craving for Korean dessert. Maybe after such a delicious treat, you will be inspired to learn some Korean and start reading authentic cookbooks. Or maybe you’re just looking for something sweet to satisfy a sugar craving. The wide world of desserts is a varied and wonderful one; there are plenty of healthy alternatives if you want some desserts that will pack on the pounds, and you can learn all about how to make these impossibly healthy treats. Soon you will have your very own repertoire of desserts that you can make to entertain and delight your friends and family.