For Westerners, the phrase “dalgona” probably doesn’t mean anything. However, for Koreans and other avid followers throughout Asia, dalgona is one of the nation’s most adored dessert treats. Dalgona first became popular after the Korean War, especially with young school children. In fact, at the end of your average school day, it was common for all the young children to rush to the local tea bar or candy shop for a stick of dalgona. For many Koreans, dalgona is more than just a food: it brings back memories of their childhood and youth. In fact, dalgona has made a massive comeback in recent months, largely thanks to Café Cha, a revolutionary, trendy café brand founded by Seoul entrepreneur, Kenny Hong Kyoung-soo.
How is dalgona made?
If you were to look online, you’d probably see images of dalgona in the form of whipped drinks. However, this isn’t even close to what dalgona is to many people. Dalgona is a hard confectionary, very similar to honeycomb toffee, however, its versatility means it can be applied to many different foods and drinks, adding a delicious sweet taste.
According to Hong, the traditional dalgona recipe is quite easy to replicate at home (because it only uses two core ingredients):
Step 1: Melt 1 tablespoon of sugar in a pan on low heat – do not burn the sugar
Step 2: Add baking soda to the pan (1 pinch) and begin whipping using a pair of chopsticks. It will start to become thick and foamy
Step 3: Once you are satisfied with the texture, pour the ingredients onto parchment paper and flatten it using a metal press
Step 4: Begin cutting shapes into the surface before the candy hardens
What’s so good about Café Cha?
Café Cha has been widely successful since it first opened its doors in September 2019. Having expanded to 7 locations already, across Japan and Seoul, Café Cha has propelled dalgona back into the public eye. The chain has also benefited from its minimal interior design and ground-breaking recipes, which seek to blend traditional dalgona flavours with contemporary milk tea and coffee flavours.
In fact, the café’s signature milk tea perfectly captures the traditional flavours of the past (dalgona) and combines it with innovative new brewing methods. According to Hong, their baristas use crushed black tea leaves, which are heated and extracted using a tea “espresso” machine. The extraction is then mixed with frothed milk, and is then topped off with, you guessed it, crushed dalgona pieces. After a while, the dalgona pieces will melt into your tea, adding a sweet undertone to your beverage. If that’s not up your alley, try some of their delicious dalgona scones or even the dalgona panna cotta.