Tuesday, November 09, 2010
It’s a fact, the world is getting smaller everyday and seemingly huge gaps between cultures and continents continue to wane. I’m always interested in how cultures connect and their similarities and this same curiosity carries over to food.
Since it’s almost holiday season in the States, my mind is already geared towards the cookies, the cakes, and all the good stuff that goes hand-in-hand with family, sharing and gift-giving.
Enter Yakkwa or Yakgwa, a honey-soaked donut cookie (yes, they’re deep-fried!) traditionally made for Korean Thanksgiving Chuseok and offered to ancestors. I love the history behind this confection, and I thought it would be a perfect fit for our own upcoming holidays, not to mention its dominant flavors of ginger and cinnamon fall right into season.
Another thing I found interesting about these cookies was the use of sesame oil. To my knowledge, I have never had dessert that used an oil with such an overpowering flavor, so I was a bit leery. However, after trying them, I realized the oil’s earthy, almost peanut-y aroma works really well with the cinnamon and honey flavors.
If you’re looking to incorporate a bit of global flair into your holiday traditions this year, these sweet little honey cakes may be just the thing you’ve been looking for.
They take a little bit of time, but they’re definitely worth it. Here is my interpretation of this traditional Korean treat:
YakGwa (Korean Fried Honey Cakes)
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons dark sesame oil
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons soju (or sake, vodka, dry sherry)
4 tablespoons water
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons honey
1 cup water
1-inch knob peeled ginger, sliced
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 lemon zest (add to syrup once off the heat)
3 cups vegetable oil for frying
Sesame seeds for garnish
Pine nuts or slivered almonds (optional)
Begin by whisking the the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
Separately, mix the sesame oil, liquor, honey, and water together thoroughly, then gently combine with the flour mixture.
Gently hand-knead the mixture in the bowl until a nice non-sticky dough forms, about 4-5 minutes. If the mixture is too dry, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until it comes together.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness.
Traditionally, YakGwa are made in the shape of a chrysanthemum, but you can use a simple flower-shaped cookie cutter, or any other shape you’d like (I made a few heart-shaped ones). You can also forgo the cookie cutters all together and just cut the dough into 1 1/2 inch squares or diamonds.
Heat the oil over medium heat for about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the syrup:
In a medium saucepan, combine all of the syrup ingredients except the lemon zest. Bring the syrup to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for about 10 minutes. The syrup will be slightly thickened. Remove it from the heat, stir in the lemon zest and set aside.
Frying the YakGwa:
Just before frying, lightly prick the cookies with a fork to prevent air bubbles.
Test the oil temperature by dropping in a piece of dough. The dough should sink and remain near the bottom of the pan for several seconds, then slowly rise to the surface. If the dough rises too quickly, turn the heat down some.
Fry the yakgwa in batches, flipping them over to ensure an even deep-golden brown color on both sides. Set the cookies to drain.
Next, lay the yakgwa in a single layer in a shallow bowl and drench them in the warm spiced syrup. Allow the cookies to soak for at least 2 hours. Drain off any excess syrup (which tastes great in tea, btw) and garnish the yakgwa with sesame seeds and / or nuts.
The cookies will last for about 2-3 days, but hopefully you won’t have them around for that long .
What interesting things are you planning to do to shake up your usual holiday menus this year?
Editor : nyamkitchenView all Posts