Dalgona (Spongy Candy)

A nostalgic Korean spongy sugar candy that’s simply made with sugar and baking soda!

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Everyone is talking about dalgona coffee these days, and you probably know it’s named after a popular Korean spongy candy called dalgona (달고나). More than anything, the latest coffee craze has brought back my childhood memories of having these sweet treats from street vendors, and I’ve been having lots of fun making them! Making these will be a fun activity for you and kids while staying at home.

What is dalgona candy?

Dalgona is a sponge toffee-like candy we grew up having from street vendors everywhere, especially around the schools. The word dalgona came from the casual Korean word “dalguna (달구나)” meaning “it’s sweet.” It’s also called ppopgi, 뽑기, which means to pick or select, referring to the game and reward aspect of this candy offered by the vendors. 

Similar to honeycomb toffee candy, dalgona is basically made by melting sugar and stirring in a little bit of baking soda. The sugar mixture then foams up and turns into something that looks like light caramel-colored whipped cream. This is the part that resembles the whipped coffee.

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You can simply pour it out, cool it and enjoy it as is. However, the dalgona that’s nostalgic to every Korean is flattened to a thin round disk and imprinted with a mold before it hardens and becomes brittle.

This is where fun really begins. You’re supposed to carefully eat around the pattern, without breaking it. It’s not easy! For us children, this always was a highly intense, competitive activity. People often use a pin or a toothpick as a tool. I remember we even used our saliva to smooth out the edges. Some vendors reward you with another one if you successfully break off the outer part, saving the shape, and some others have other rewards such as small toys. 

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All you need is sugar and baking soda! Any sugar works, but baking power is not a substitute for baking soda.

Do you need special tools?

No. You can find commercially available dalgona making kits on-line, but I use what I can find in my kitchen.

  • stainless steel ladle
  • chopstick to stir the sugar
  • non-stick baking sheet or pan to use as a base (or use parchment paper)
  • rubber spatula – optional but I find it helpful
  • hotteok/dalgona press (or a bowl/small sauce pan with a smooth, round bottom, about 4 to 5 inch diameter)
  • cookie cutter(s)
  • lollipop sticks – optional

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Tips for making dalgona

The process is simple, but here are a few tips to help you make dalgona successfully.

  • Gather all the ingredients and tools before starting.
  • It’s very important not to burn sugar. Stir constantly, and control the heat. If it starts to smoke, raise the ladle a few inches above the heat, and lower it closer once it cools off a little. Raise it agin when most of the sugar turns syrupy with only a few lumps and finish melting. 
  • Once the baking soda is added, the mixture will immediately begin to foam and can burn quickly. Keep the ladle a few inches above the heat, and stir quickly and vigorously. Don’t let it puff up too long. It will burn at the bottom.
  • The hot dalgona mixture can stick to the base surface and/or the press. Use a non-stick baking sheet or skillet as the base. The key is to let the mixture cool off a little after pouring it out onto the base surface, about 15 seconds. Then, press it gently (as if you’re just tapping it) a couple of times, before pressing it all the way to the desired thickness.
    • Some people sprinkle sugar or baking soda , apply oil or use parchment paper to prevent the frothy mixture from sticking. Experiment and see which works for you the best. 
  • If you’re making more than one, keep a pot of hot water on the stove to rinse off the ladle and the spatula between the batches.

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If you tried this dalgona candy recipe, please rate the recipe and let me know how it turned out for you in the comment section below.  Stay in touch by following me on YouTubePinterestTwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

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Dalgona (Sugar Candy)

5 from 10 votes
Dessert, Snack
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1
Print Recipe

Equipment

  • stainless steel ladle
  • chopstick to stir the sugar
  • non-stick baking sheet or pan to use as a base (or use parchment paper)
  • rubber spatula
  • hotteok press (or a bowl with a smooth, round bottom, about 4 to 5 inch diameter)
  • cookie cutter(s)
  • lollipop sticks - optional

Ingredients

For each candy

  • 1.5 tablespoons sugar (white or brown)
  • 1/16 teaspoon baking soda (about 3 pinches)

Instructions

  • Have everything ready before you start.
  • Add 1.5 tablespoons of sugar to the ladle. Hold the ladle over low to medium low heat. When the sugar starts to melt around the edges, stir with a chopstick.
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  • Continue to stir constantly, controlling the heat. If it starts to smoke, raise the ladle a few inches above the heat, and lower it closer once it cools off a little. Repeat as necessary until the sugar completely melts without any lumps, but let it cool off a little before adding the baking soda.
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  • Holding the ladle away from the heat, stir in the baking soda.
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  • Stir quickly and vigorously (about 25 times) until the baking soda is completely dissolved and the frothy mixture turns light caramel-color. While stirring, you can bring the ladle closer to the heat for a short second or two to keep it warm, but don’t let it puff up too long. It will burn at the bottom
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  • Pour the mixture onto a non-stick baking sheet or a skillet, scraping with a rubber spatula. Place the tip of the optional lollipop stick into the mixture.
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  • Let it cool for 10 to 15 seconds. Then, lightly press it down with the press and lift the press a couple of times, and then press it all the way to the desired thickness. This helps prevent the dalgona from sticking to the press.
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  • Immediately, stamp it with a cookie cutter, firmly but not all the way through. Promptly remove the cutter.
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Tried this recipe?Mention @koreanbapsang or tag #koreanbapsang!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This was a wonderful recipe! Thank you so much.

  2. 5 stars
    I made this candy for dessert and my kids absolutely loved it. My husband did too and he usually doesn’t eat candy. It has a wonderful caramel flavor. Thank you for this recipe! I will be making it throughout the year.