MOST POPULAR KOREAN DESSERTS IN THE US
Korean traditional desserts are exquisite in beauty, low in calories, and nutritious. In addition, Korean desserts are healthy. Most of the time, sweets are made from nutritious foods such as rice flour, honey, beans, and other cereals. Therein lies the reason for the super popularity of goodies from Korea.
The swift entry of Korean desserts into the U.S. market is due to the vast popularity of sweets among tourists. Many travelers couldn't even imagine their trip to Korea without tasting the country's unique sweets from different regions. Therefore, Korean desserts are steadily winning the hearts of Americans and becoming an essential part of everyday meals.
In the U.S. and Korea, there are even franchise stores opening that specializes solely in varieties of one or more desserts, such as Bingsu. Make sure to try and enjoy the taste of Asian desserts. Immerse yourself in the big world of Korean cuisine: you won't be disappointed!
So as not to get lost in the variety of treats, we offer you a collection of the most popular and delightful Korean desserts, from classic to modern fusion desserts.
1. Sweet Rice Cake (Songpyeon) is a variety of sticky rice ravioli with a sweet filling. The filling is chestnut or adzuki paste, sesame seeds, and honey.
Songpyeon assortment of five natural colors: white, brown, pink, yellow, and green. There are no dyes in the dessert. Only natural ingredients are used to color the sweets. The only thing that is not changed is the unique pine aroma as the sweets are steamed on pine needles.
2. FISH-SHAPED BREAD WITH SWEET RED BEAN (Bungeoppang) is a goldfish cookie. Waffle dough is put into a double-sided fish-shaped mold, then one adds the filling, and the two halves are stapled together.
The inside of these sweets is a dark-colored mass that resembles chocolate, but only externally. The filling of Bungeoppang is a red bean paste with quite a peculiar taste. Bungeoppang is best tasted freshly baked when the crust is crispy, and the filling is warm.
3. TEA COOKIES (Dasik) are amazingly light and delicate tea cookies. Dasik is a traditional sesame seed cookie. Sesame seeds, grains, and pollen are mixed with honey syrup and pressed into small cookies in a wooden mold.
Traditionally, Dasik is made in 5 different colors—white, yellow, black, green, and red. Inside the cookies, they are pressed with images of flowers, birds, fish, geometric patterns, or words. The cookies are very light and fresh, with a natural taste and color, and great for tea.
4. HONEY PASTRY (Yakgwa) is a deep-fried wheat yakgwa (Korean confectionery) with cheongju (rice wine), sesame oil, and ginger juice. Honey impregnation mixed with cinnamon powder gives the cookies a sweet flavor and soft, moist texture. The dessert is also topped with various toppings, such as pine nuts or sesame seeds.
Traditionally, cookies are made in three sizes: large, medium, and trim. They are cut into squares or squeezed out in graceful patterns with special shapes.
5. SHAVED ICE (Bingsu) — is Korean ice cream. Bingsu, literally translated as ice and water. Ice is grated very finely and mixed with a flavored syrup. Bingsu is topped or poured with various sprinkles, syrups, and toppings. These include nut powder, almonds, corn flakes, milk shavings, chocolate, fruit, and even cheese. The additions to the iced dessert take it to the highest level of taste sensation.
Bingsu is an iconic Korean dessert. There are incredible toppings and flavors, from red beans to tropical fruits, rice cake, and even cheesecake!
6. SPONGE CANDY (Dalgona) — honeycomb-shaped popsticks made with sugar and baking soda. The Dalgona, similar to butterscotch, is made by melting sugar and adding a small amount of baking soda. Then, the sugar mixture foams and becomes like whipped cream of a light caramel color.
The popstick have a sweet caramel flavor and a slightly crunchy, but melt-in-your-mouth texture.
Dalgona popstick became especially popular after the release of Squid Game, where the participants of the show tried to carve figures out of the fragile candy with a needle.
7. Korean Watermelon Punch (Hwachae) is a non-alcoholic fruit punch. This popular refreshing drink is traditionally made with honey or sugar diluted in water. People add fruits, edible flowers, and fruits to the punch for different flavors. There are many variations of the drink, some even made with barley or rice cakes.
There are more than 30 kinds of fruit punch, the flavor of which depends on the main fruit. It can be watermelon, cherry, peach, melon, quince, mango, grape, raspberry, strawberry, etc. Hwachae is popular with modern carbonated drinks. The fantastic and tasty dessert saves you from the heat, and the seasonal fruits in the punch restore perspiration and strengthens the immune system.
8. SWEET PANCAKE (Hotteok) — crepes or pancakes with filling. A classic hotteok recipe includes a nut filling (chopped peanuts), cinnamon, and brown sugar. The base of the pancakes is rice flour. Because of the high sugar content, one dessert contains up to 230 calories.
Hotteok is a seasonal dessert. The growth in sales of this sweet treat falls in the cold season. That's when the spicy aroma beckons all passers-by, not just fans of Korean desserts.
9. Pepero Cake is a thin cookie that looks like sticks. Sweet snacks in the form of straws are coated with different types of chocolate glaze. The variety of flavors of the cookies is achieved by adding spices and nuts.
Pepero Cake is very caloric, so it is used as a snack or a quick treat for tea or coffee. Usually, it is covered with frosting for most of the straw, and the tip is left without chocolate. It allows your hands to always stay clean, especially during the hot season.
10. Gotgamssam (Walnuts Wrapped in Persimmon) are walnuts wrapped in persimmon. Dried persimmons are delicious on their own. But together with walnuts, it is a special dessert. Only two ingredients are used to make the sweet-dried persimmons and walnuts. If the persimmon is too dry, honey is added to make it gooey.
Nuts wrapped in apricots, called Salgussam, are equally delicious and healthy. If you want to enjoy the dessert, leave room in your belly as this is quite a hearty dessert.
11. SWEET RICE DESSERT (Yaksik) is a rice cake. Yaksik is made from sweet rice and mixed with dried fruits and nuts. The dessert is flavored with honey, brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and cinnamon. The incredible combination of ingredients creates a deep caramel flavor with subtle hints of nuts and spices. The flavor is maximized at room temperature.
The perfectly cooked Yaksik has every grain of rice with a brilliant topaz brown hue.
The sweetness is not only delicious but also very healthful. The nutritional properties of sweet rice are great for those with digestive problems.
12. Red Bean Popsicles are a fruity red bean ice cream. It's a creamy cold dessert with chewy bean chunks inside. The key ingredient in the icy treat is a sweet red bean paste. The soft, thick beans combine with topping and nuts as a sprinkle to create an extraordinary flavor. This frozen fruit ice is refreshing on hot days. The variations of topping and sprays allow you to enjoy a new taste sensation every time.
13. Tteok is a sticky rice dessert with a sweet filling. There are wide varieties of tteok, all of which have one thing in common: an unusual stretchy texture. Tteok is a versatile sweet that comes in all kinds of shapes, colors, and sizes.
It contains various ingredients: nuts, fruits, mung beans, anko, whole adzuki beans, ziziphus, dried fruits, sesame seeds, pine nuts, honey, chestnut, and sugar. To spice up the dessert, the treat is dipped in bean powder.
14. Yugwa — cookies with honey, fried in butter. This crunchy dessert is sweet but not sugary, with a slight hint of alcohol. Traditionally, the sweet is made from rice flour and soaked white beans. In a simplified version, only rice flour is used.
Most of the time, the sweet is white. Natural ingredients (wormwood, pumpkin, or black rice) are added to the batter for other bright colors. In addition, ginger is added to the dessert, giving the sweet an exciting color and a savory flavor and aroma.
Yugwa dessert is easy to recognize from the first bite due to its light crispness, sweet caramelized syrup, and tangy, nutty flavor.
15. Hodupai is a peanut pie. It is possible to meet a dessert in the form of a pie, but more often, the dessert is made in the form of pie baskets with a filling. Portioned baskets are made of shortbread dough and filled with a sweet mixture of nuts and cinnamon. In addition to chopped nuts, butter, syrup from rice, and black spice sugar are added to the stuffing. Thanks to the walnuts, the sweet has a wonderful flavor and aroma. Hodupai is packed in gift boxes so you can take them with you when you go to be with friends.
16. Sweet Flower Pancakes (Hwajeon) is a pretty little cake or pancake. The dessert is made from edible petals of seasonal flowers. It usually uses rhododendron, pear, cherry, rose, and chrysanthemums. If there are no flowers in season, hwajeon is prepared with lichen umbilicaria, wormwood yomogi, and ziziphus.
Hwajeon is made with sticky rice flour. The flower petals are placed on the pancake and lightly pressed onto the dough while frying in a pan. Even after frying, a proper dessert is white, so cook Hwajeon on low heat. The dessert is served with a generous sprinkling of sugar syrup.
17. Hwapyeong is a fruit jelly cake. Hwapyeong is made from fruits boiled with sugar and starch (most often mung beans) to produce a jelly-like consistency.
Hwapyeong is made from cherries, apricots, quinces, lemongrass, and other tart-sweet fruits with high pectin content. You will never find Hwapyeong made from apples, pears, and peaches. Koreans do not like the color of these fruits when boiled.
The flavor of Hwapyeong is sour-sweet. The sweets are quite smooth and very pleasant to the touch when you put them in your mouth.
18. Sujeonggwa is a traditional sweet cinnamon punch. The drink's base is dried persimmon and ginger, so the punch has a reddish-brown color. Honey or brown sugar is added to the punch. It is often garnished with pine nuts when served.
The fabulous dessert drink also protects against the common cold. Both the cinnamon and ginger in Sujeonggwa taste delicious and their antimicrobial properties make the drink surprisingly useful because they can help prevent colds.
19. Bukkumi is fried rice dumplings with a sweet filling. The dessert has a crispy crust and a soft, chewy texture inside. It is made with sticky rice flour. It is filled with a paste of sweet red beans, mung beans, or chestnuts. The filling is also filled with toasted and crushed sesame seeds, cinnamon, and sugar. The colors of bukkumi vary from white to yellow, pink, or dark green.
The dessert is topped with honey or syrup and garnished with grated chestnuts or marmalade. It is best eaten warm and with tea.
20. Yeot is a Korean taffy. The treat is steamed from rice, corn, sweet potatoes, and other mixed-grain ingredients. The ingredients are fermented in malt water until it becomes slightly sticky.
If Yeot is boiled until it becomes syrupy, it is known as mule Yeot. If it is boiled to a thicker consistency, it is called cochon, which is used as a sweet sauce, and if it is cooled until solidified, it becomes gaeng-yeot.
While making gaeng-yeot, the candy is stretched and given a solid form by Yeot, which Koreans love as a sweet snack at any time of the day.
21. Yanggaeng is a sweet red bean jelly. Yanggaeng is a modern Korean dessert. Sweet jelly is made from red beans, chestnuts, agar, and sugar. The ingredients are chopped, mixed, placed in a mold, and steamed. The steamed mixture is cooled to a jelly-like consistency.
Classic Yanggaeng is made with red beans, which are known for its reddish-brown color, but no less popular is the light brown jelly. It is made from chestnut powder.
22. Rice Cake Balls (Gyeongdan) are sweet little balls of glutinous rice. The balls are made of rice flour and boiled in boiling water. After cooking, they are coated with red bean powder, sesame seeds, honey, malted water syrup, grains, and nuts.
Depending on what they are coated with, they are called Gyeongdan with beans, Gyeongdan with pine nuts, Gyeongdan with sweet potatoes, etc.
23. Ginger Cookies (Maejakwa) are sticky rice flour patties. The airy dessert melts in your mouth with a distinctly sweet, savory flavor.
To make the sweetness, one takes extra virgin flour. The dough is cut into strips and deep-fried until golden. Cooked pita bread is smeared with molasses or honey and liberally sprinkled with ground sesame seeds, soy flour, cinnamon, pine pollen, ginger, nuts, and other spices.
Recipes for traditional Korean desserts have been passed down for generations. The best part is that many desserts use nutritious, healthy ingredients. Among traditional Korean treats are many gluten-free and vegan goodies.
Sugar in Korea is not the main ingredient in much of the country's culinary history. Desserts are mostly made with fruit or lightly sweetened foods. Flowers and red beans are also popular ingredients in Korean desserts.
Modern desserts from Korea are designed with culinary traditions in mind. Rice treats, and ice chips remain popular. But new desserts combine these ingredients with modern ones to create interesting new desserts, such as green tea ice cream or red bean cheesecake.
Unusually, many Korean desserts use seasonal fruits as their main ingredients, so you can discover new flavors and textures all year round. You can find a Korean dessert for almost any occasion. Do you want something to warm you up in the cold winter or cool you down in the hot summer? Korean desserts will bring comfort and provide unforgettable memories at any time of year.
Korean sweets are delightful, colorful, and with mind-blowingly combined flavors. You can hardly choose just one dessert among the variety of sweets because even the dessert's appearance is essential in Korean sweets.