|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 37g||47%|
|Saturated Fat 3g||15%|
|Total Carbohydrate 38g||14%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||2%|
|Total Sugars 23g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||1%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
One of the most beloved and traditional Korean confections, yakgwa is a fried cookie dipped in honey-ginger syrup that is found everywhere, from grocery stores to traditional tea houses. Shaped like flowers, or cut into squares or diamond-shaped bits, these treats are very sweet and often served as a dessert rather than being eaten as an everyday snack. Although our recipe does require time and patience, and some skill when frying and soaking the cookies, the effort will greatly be compensated when you sit down and take a bite of these wonderfully chewy cookies.
Because it traditionally is served at ceremonies and on special occasions, like weddings and 60th birthdays, one would assume that yakgwa would translate to something related to celebrations. However, it literally means "medicinal confection"—"yak" means medicine and "awa" stands for confection or sweet. Because honey, an important part of traditional Korean medicine, is one of the main ingredients, the resulting honey cookie earned its name.
Yakgwa comes in large, medium, and small sizes—it's up to the cook to decide how big they should be. We found that small or medium sized-cookies are easier to handle and fry.
"These cookies are worth the wait. With just the right amount of sweetness from the honey, the real star of the show here is the sesame. The sticky-sweet cookie makes a beautiful centerpiece or even a weekend baking project. I have no doubt this cookie will become your new favorite." —Lauryn Bodden
For the Cookie Dough:
For the Syrup:
1/2 cup rice malt syrup
1 cup honey
1 small piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
3 cups vegetable oil, or as needed for frying
1/4 cup pine nuts, chopped
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Make the Dough
Gather the ingredients.
Place the flour in a large bowl.
Add sesame oil and mix by hand, rubbing the flour between your hands and fingers to combine.
In a separate bowl, whisk the honey, sake, and water together.
Add the liquid ingredients to the flour mixture and knead gently with your hands to form a dough.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes.
On a floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/2-inch thick.
Cut the dough into 1-inch strips to make diamond or rectangle shapes. Or cut into a flower shape if you have at hand a yakgwa-pan exclusively made to shape these cookies.
With the help of a fork or toothpick, pierce a small hole in the center of each cookie. Set aside.
Make the Syrup
Gather the ingredients.
Place the rice malt syrup, honey, and ginger in a saucepan over medium heat.
Bring to a simmer and then remove immediately from heat.
Carefully pour into a rectangular dish or glass baking pan large enough to hold the cookies in a single layer.
Fry the Yakgwa
Place a sturdy, flat-bottomed fryer or saucepan onto the stove. Add enough oil for frying, at least 2 to 3 inches.
Heat over medium heat until the oil temperature is 212 F.
In small batches, drop pastries in oil and fry, gently turning them until they puff and float, about 4 to 5 minutes.
Raise the heat of the oil to about 300 F and continue frying until the yakgwa turns golden brown.
With the help of a slotted spoon, remove the yakgwa from the oil and place them into the ginger syrup. Repeat the frying process with the remaining cookies, being careful to allow all cookies to go through the two oil temperature stages—when you're done frying one batch you need to allow the oil to come back down to 212 F.
When all of the yakwa have been placed in the syrup, turn each one over once so they are coated.
Soak in the syrup for 2 to 3 hours. Remove with a slotted spoon onto another dish lined with parchment paper.
Sprinkle with pine nuts and sesame seeds. Enjoy!
How to Store
Keep leftovers at room temperature for one week, in the fridge for up to two weeks, or freeze and thaw overnight in the refrigerator before eating.