Last weekend I received a text from Mrs. McFeeley. “Hey, we finally ate that Dragons Beard Candy you brought, it has seeds in it!” It reminded me of one of the projects we decided to tackle while I visited them in Vermont over the holidays. “Come on, let’s make this candy… we don’t really understand the directions and only one of us have ever tried before, it’s gonna be fun!”
Turns out, it was!
Now it was I who had eaten Kkul-Tarae before, something I was introduced to by a street vendor when I was in Korea. He was VERY good at his job and we all walked away with a box of it. My box managed to find its way to Casa McFeeley. Seemed fitting, if we were going to make it, we should probably have an example of what it was supposed to be like.
When Jami suggested it, I thought “Why not? The guy made it look crazy simple. Crazy simple crafting is right up my alley.” Yeeeeaaaaah. Let’s think about how often that man makes that candy. He could probably do it in his sleep. He probably looked back at our plans and thought to himself “they should have just bought the extra box I tried to sell them.” Too late for that buddy, we had a will, plenty of cornstarch, and no fear of failure.
Now if you’re wondering what Kkull-tarae is, it’s also known as Korean Court Cake or Dragons Beard Candy (in China). One piece of candy is pulled and stretched until you have 16384 strands. and is then filled with nuts or seeds. Its sweet, nutty, and SUPER chewy.
Here are the ingredients you’re going to need for various reasons:
2lb of sugar – Yes, that’s 2 pounds, did I stutter?
3.5oz of light corn syrup
1 tsp of white vinegar
2 cups of water
4 Cups Corn Starch or Rice Flour
3 cups of peanuts
Silicon circle baking molds. The ones Jami found are donut-shaped which was handy, as there was already a starter circle. As we are from New England, its only fitting ours were in the color of Dunkin Donuts.
Aprons. Trust me. Don’t skip the aprons.
We checked a couple of different recipes for this as not all of them seemed to have all the info, but our main source we found by Zidthekid
First off, you’re going to read the articles and recipes a lot. Read them again. Then maybe again. Then maybe one more time. Trust me. Its not a bad plan.
Second, we’re going to attempt to make the syrup! You MUST use a thermometer for this step. We’re talking a candy thermometer as this is for real candy business.
Add sugar, syrup, and vinegar to a pot with your thermometer. You’re going to heat this until you’re about 270 degrees. The hard thing about this step? YOU CAN’T STIR! You just have to sit there, watching the pot, worrying that you’ve done it right.
Check the recipe again.
Watch the syrup not boil. Check the thermometer.
Hoping the adage a watched pot never boils carries onto candy making, make a conscious decision to turn away from the pot and ‘toast the corn starch.’
Be concerned you’re not doing it right as how does one toast a powder?
And we weren’t the only ones certain disaster was straight ahead.
When the corn starch is sufficiently ‘toasted’, toast the peanuts. Yes, we did it in the cornstarch bowl. Who’s going to tell on us? YOU?
If you’re lucky enough to have a food processer, grind those peanuts down, otherwise, if you’re like my apartment and have no such room for helpful gadgets, hack at them with a knife.
Celebrate when the thermometer undeniably starts moving and then starts a vigorous boil. Keep an eagle eye on that thermometer, candy making is a science!
Once you’ve officially reached the correct temperature, first off, congratulations! Well done! Pour the syrup into your molds!
This is boiling syrup, so be careful!
Let your gel donuts cool until it becomes a solid. Look how pretty these are! (If we have a tip, don’t wait for them to be completely hard, we may have gone out, watched a Christmas parade and came back, they were definitely BLOCKS of candy.)
Once firm, its time for the fun to begin! Pop the candy out of the molds.
Olive oil your hands and dip the candy into the cornstarch.
Start working the molds. You’re going to gently but firmly grip the candy, stretching, pulling, and twisting it until it becomes flexible. Be careful because if you try to move too fast, you’re going to break it.
As it gets bendy, you’re going to fold the candy into a figure 8, loop them together, dip in corn starch, and work, stretching the two strands in your hands until its flexible, and big enough to do another loop.
You’re attempting to turn the one circle into many strands.
It is not easy!
Your hands will get sore.
But you’re hanging out with friends, having a good time, so quit bitching. Realizing you’re never going to get the 16384 strands, as that’s professional grade Kkul-tarae, Kkul-tarae made by a street vendor who makes it every day level Kkul-tarae, but give it as good of a go as you can, and then give up. Lay the strands you are able to make out on a cutting board.
Add a scoopful of nuts!
Wrap the strands around the nut mix. Repeat. Repeat again.
Impress friends! (Because you’re the only ones who know what it’s supposed to look like, they’re just going to know how labor-intensive they are, and will be able to tell just how yummy they are even if they look like….)
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