Inside of Yakgwa
Photo by NYAM
YAKGWA: KOREAN HONEY COOKIE
OTHER NAMES: Yak-kwa, Yakwa, honey cookies, 약과(means medicinal confectionery)
Yakgwa is a honey-soaked deep fried cookie. It was traditionally in a shape of a flower or chrysanthemum. Modern-day yakgwa’s signature shape is round with a rippled edge. However, it used to come in a variety of designs including the shapes of fruits or even living things.  It is made by deep-frying the dough and then soaked in honey for at least 6-8 hours.  The result is a sticky sweet and slightly chewy. 
During older time, honey was considered as a healthy medicine in Korea. This is why it is called yakgwa, which means the “medicinal confectionery”.  According to the book “Travel Seoul”, Yakgwa was served for temple ritual from the influence of Buddhism in Korea during the Silla period already. 
Buddhism did not enter the kingdom of Silla until the 5th century; however it wasn’t a widespread religion in the beginning. During Junheung of Silla (540 - 576), Buddhism was encouraged and eventually being recognized as the national religion of Silla. 
Throughout the Goryeo Dynasty (918–1392) the Yakgwa recipe became very common, and spread over to China.  During the Joseon Dynasty (1392–1897), Korean sweets became a representative food served on tables for rituals including those served to the king. Here is another family story during that time from KimChiMari.com.
Wheat flour, honey, sesame oil
Optional: cinnamon, ginger, white pepper, baking powder, rice wine
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