Korean Flower Cookies (Yakgwa)

Honey and Butter

Some foods are best homemade. Others are best left to the experts. I’ve found that the more specialized and ethnic a food, the harder it is to replicate in the home kitchen. But that doesn’t keep us from trying, does it?

These cookies are classic Korean cookies. Made from a sweet cookie dough that is pressed into special molds, they are then fried in oil and submerged in sweet syrup. The result is a sticky sweet and slightly chewy cookie that is in a category all its own.

Yakgwa (Korean Flower Cookies)

2 cups flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 TB honey
1 TB fresh ginger juice
3 TB water
2 TB sesame oil
2 TB canola oil

1 cup barley malt syrup
1 tsp cinnamon

3 cups vegetable oil
crushed or whole pine nuts

Whisk together the flour, salt, and cinnamon. Add the honey, ginger juice, water, and oils and mix until thoroughly combined. Add more water, by the tablespoon, just until the dough comes together. Gather into a flat disk, wrap with plastic, and let it rest 10-15 minutes.

Cut the log into pieces big enough to fit into a Korean flower cookie mold. Alternatively, roll the dough out and cut out shapes with a flower cookie cutter.

Heat the barley malt syrup in a medium saucepan. Add the cinnmon.

Heat the vegetable oil to 320-350F. Fry each cookie until golden brown on each side.

Add the cookies to the syrup to absorb, about 1-2 minute for each cookie. Take the cookie out and let it sit to harden slightly. Serve sprinkled with crushed or whole pine nuts on top.

Much like baklava, these sweeties are best served in conservative portions. Or, with a tall glass of milk.

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    January 2, 2011 at 10:48 am

    I love your site! Great pictures and recipes. I especially enjoy the Korean one. I’m leaving in Feb to teach English in Korea and this is a great taste (so to say) of what Korean food is like! : )


    • Reply
      January 2, 2011 at 10:53 am

      Hi Justine, thanks for visiting! I hope you will have a great time in Korea, they really appreciate good English teachers there 🙂 And eat lots of street food!

  • Reply
    January 1, 2011 at 11:04 am

    They look absolutely delicious! I’ve only had one other Korean sweet… something called yakpop… I have no idea how you spell it, but I had a friend who made me some one time and I LOOOOVED it! It was rice all stuck together with dates and nuts mixed throughout. I’ve never been able to find a recipe for it. Do you have any idea?

    • Reply
      January 1, 2011 at 11:24 am

      Ooh yes, yakbab is a great idea for another post. Yakbab is made with sweet or glutinous rice and is studded with dates, chestnuts, pinenuts, etc. I always think of it as some type of Korean-style fruitcake. I’ve lived around yakbab all my life and it’s just one of those things you don’t really think about making at home, seeing as it is usually pretty complicated and has multiple steps. But let me see if I can track down a good recipe and do a post on it. Sounds pretty tasty, stay tuned! 🙂

  • Reply
    January 1, 2011 at 6:49 am

    Beautiful! I learned how to make these at a Korean dduk and dessert class I look last year. Fun!

    • Reply
      January 1, 2011 at 11:14 am

      Thanks Jessica, that class sounds like a lot of fun!

  • Reply
    January 1, 2011 at 3:03 am

    What an interesting recipe! Fried + dipped in syrup, sounds rather good to me!

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    December 30, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Wow, these look glorious! I have never tried including sesame oil in cookies before but will try next time 😉 Happy new year!

  • Reply
    December 30, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    Can you describe the taste of these cookies? They look delicious! Also, do you have a picture of the mold? Would a silcone-shaped ice mold work?

    • Reply
      December 30, 2010 at 2:36 pm

      Hi Anna, these cookies are similar to middle eastern type cookies in that they are syrup soaked. So if you like the sweetness/richness of sweets such as baklava, you should enjoy these. I don’t have a photo of the molds, since they are not easy to find. Silicone is too soft to be used here, cookie cutters are the best substitute. Hope this helps, Christi

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