Sweet and Spicy Hotteok (Sweet and Spicy Korean Handcakes)

Ever wanted to make something sweet and spicy that’s super easy? Well, you’re in luck! This guide is all about making Korean Hotteok (Sweet and Spicy Hotteok) —a tasty treat without the hassle. Whether you’re craving a dessert or a quick snack, let’s learn how to make these delicious snacks, mixing Korean tradition with simplicity.

Hotteok in Seoul

When exploring Seoul in the bitter cold winter, nothing warms your hands quite like Hotteok. 

It doesn’t take long to find the hotteok (hottuk or hodduk) stands at Namdaemun Market. Just follow your nose to the warmly lit tents smelling of cinnamon, sugar, and fried dough. Or look for the crowds huddled around the ajimas frying and folding the stuffed pancakes into little Dixie cups for eager patrons to hold as they battle the scorching hot filling with each bite. It’s a hand warmer you can eat for about USD$1 each so you can’t go wrong getting two!

Of course, you miss the satisfaction of thawing your frozen fingers on a hot, stuffed pancake when you cook hotteok at home. I don’t see myself getting the chance to fly back to Seoul any time soon, so when the hotteok craving hits, I have to scratch it.

I’ve seen hotteok made both in the deep fryer and on the griddle. Either way, you get a stuffed donut-like pancake made with crispy outer skin, pillowy dough, and any number of tasty fillings. I almost always go for the traditional sweet hotteok which is usually stuffed with chopped nuts, cinnamon, and brown sugar or honey. If I’m feeling extra peckish, I go for one of the savory hotteok filled with meat, vegetables, and even chopped japchae (stir-fried Korean glass noodles). 

And I burned my tongue every time.

The Wasian Cookery Take

This recipe departs a little from some of my other recipes. At Wasian Cookery, we typically explore cooking with Asian ingredients in otherwise not-so-Asian food. This time, though, I took a well-loved Korean staple and doubled down on exploring Asian ingredients within Asian cooking. Enter: gochugaru (Korean chili flakes).

I promise you: gochugaru can be used in desserts. You don’t need a lot, just a little will do. Gochugaru will add a smoky, spicy bite and impart delicious complexity to anything sweet. You’ll be seeing a lot more of it used in desserts here at Wasian Cookery.

My Touch

I adapted my hotteok recipe from Maangchi’s hotteok recipe and added my twist to the filling. Playing off of the traditional sweet filling, I added gochugaru and other spices like cumin and paprika to amplify the warming effect of hotteok. This simple recipe will warm you from the inside out so I hope you enjoy it, but please— give the filling a minute to cool before you take a bite!

How To Make Sweet and Spicy Hotteok

Hotteok Ingredients  

For the dough:

  • 1 cup lukewarm milk
  • 2 tsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp instant dry yeast *see notes if using active dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 cups AP flour plus about 1/4 cup extra for kneading
  • 1 Tbsp neutral oil

For the filling:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp gochugaru Korean chili flakes
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • pinch of salt

Instructions 

  1. Combine milk, sugar, yeast, salt, and flour in a large bowl and mix until a dough is formed. Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap to prevent a draft from disturbing the dough. Rest the dough for about an hour at room temperature.
  2. After an hour has passed, punch the dough a few times to release any gas bubbles. Cover the bowl again and rest for another 10-20 minutes.
  3. Drop about 1/4 cup of flour onto your working surface. Place dough onto the surface and knead for about a minute. After kneading, separate the dough into 8 equal-sized balls.
  4. To stuff the dough, take one of the balls in your hand and flatten it with your palms and fingers. Drop about 1 tablespoon of filling into the center of the dough and bring up the edges around the filling to seal it like a package. Repeat for remaining dough balls.
  5. After the dough has been stuffed, add oil to a large non-stick pan and place over medium to medium-high heat until the oil is hot.
  6. Place one or two stuffed balls into the pan and leave undisturbed for about 30 seconds or until the bottom turns on a golden brown color. Be sure to space your balls far apart enough to make room to press them into pancakes.
  7. Turn over each ball and, with a spatula, flatten each ball into a pancake (aim for about 1/8 inch thickness). Cook for another minute until the bottom is golden brown.
  8. Flip each pancake and cover the pan with a lid for about one more minute to allow the brown sugar to melt. Repeat until all balls have been formed into hotteok.

Notes

You do not need to wait for instant dry yeast to activate. If you use active dry yeast, mix the milk, sugar, yeast, and salt first and let rest for about 10 minutes before adding the flour to give the yeast a chance to activate.

Variations of Hotteok:

Nutella Hotteok: Fill the Hotteok dough with a generous spoonful of Nutella chocolate spread before sealing and frying. The warm and gooey Nutella filling adds a deliciously sweet twist to this Korean pancake.

Fruit Hotteok: Stuff the Hotteok dough with your favorite fruits such as sliced bananas, strawberries, or apples mixed with cinnamon and sugar. The fruity filling adds a refreshing and naturally sweet flavor to the pancake.

Cheese Hotteok: Add a savory twist to Hotteok by filling it with a mixture of shredded cheese, such as mozzarella or cheddar. The melted cheese inside the pancake creates a gooey and indulgent treat.

Savory Hotteok: Create a savory version of Hotteok by filling it with a mixture of seasoned ground meat, vegetables, and cheese. This variation is perfect for those who prefer savory flavors and makes for a satisfying snack or meal.

Red Bean Hotteok: Fill the Hotteok dough with sweetened red bean paste, a classic Korean filling made from cooked adzuki beans. The creamy and slightly sweet red bean filling adds a traditional touch to this beloved Korean pancake.

FAQs

How can I make Hotteok without gochugaru?

You can omit gochugaru for a milder taste or substitute with a spice of your choice for a personalized touch.

Can I make Hotteok dough in advance?

  • Yes, you can prepare the Hotteok dough ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Just make sure to let the dough come to room temperature before shaping and frying.

Can I freeze Hotteok for later?

  • Yes, you can freeze-cooked Hotteok for later enjoyment. Allow them to cool completely, then place them in an airtight container or freezer bag with parchment paper between each pancake to prevent sticking. Reheat in a toaster oven or microwave when ready to eat.

Is there a gluten-free version of Hotteok?

  • Yes, you can make gluten-free Hotteok by using a gluten-free flour blend in place of all-purpose flour. Additionally, ensure that all other ingredients used, including the filling, are gluten-free.

What is the best way to reheat leftover Hotteok?

  • To reheat leftover Hotteok, place them in a toaster oven or oven preheated to 350°F (175°C) for a few minutes until warmed through. Alternatively, you can reheat them in a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat until heated.

Can I make Hotteok without yeast?

  • While traditional Hotteok recipes use yeast to create a fluffy texture, you can make a quick version of Hotteok without yeast by using baking powder as a leavening agent. However, note that the texture and flavor may differ slightly from traditional Hotteok.

Are there any vegan variations of Hotteok?

  • Yes, you can make vegan Hotteok by using plant-based milk and replacing the egg in the dough with a flax egg or commercial egg replacer. Additionally, choose vegan-friendly fillings such as fruit, nuts, or sweetened red bean paste.

Sweet and Spicy Hotteok (Sweet and Spicy Korean Handcakes)

Recipe by Wasian CookeryCourse: Dessert, SnacksCuisine: KoreanDifficulty: Medium
Servings

8

servings
Prep time

2

hours 
Cooking time

10

minutes
Calories

200

kcal
Total time

2

hours 

10

minutes

Gochugaru elevates this classic Korean street food into a delicious home-cooked snack.

Ingredients

  • For the dough:
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk

  • 2 tsp white sugar

  • 1 tsp instant dry yeast *see notes if using active dry yeast

  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

  • 2 cups AP flour plus about 1/4 cup extra for kneading

  • 1 Tbsp neutral oil

  • For the filling:
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

  • 1/4 tsp gochugaru Korean chili flakes

  • 1/4 tsp cumin

  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika

  • pinch of salt

Directions

  • Combine milk, sugar, yeast, salt, and flour in a large bowl and mix until a dough is formed. Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap to prevent a draft from disturbing the dough. Rest the dough for about an hour at room temperature.
  • After an hour has passed, punch the dough a few times to release any gas bubbles. Cover the bowl again and rest for another 10-20 minutes.
  • Drop about 1/4 cup of flour onto your working surface. Place dough onto the surface and knead for about a minute. After kneading, separate the dough into 8 equal-sized balls.
  • To stuff the dough, take one of the balls in your hand and flatten it with your palms and fingers. Drop about 1 tablespoon of filling into the center of the dough and bring up the edges around the filling to seal it like a package. Repeat for remaining dough balls.
  • After the dough has been stuffed, add oil to a large non-stick pan and place over medium to medium-high heat until the oil is hot.
  • Place one or two stuffed balls into the pan and leave undisturbed for about 30 seconds or until the bottom turns a golden brown color. Be sure to space your balls far apart enough to make room to press them into pancakes.
  • Turn over each ball and, with a spatula, flatten each ball into a pancake (aim for about 1/8 inch thickness). Cook for another minute until the bottom is golden brown.
  • Flip each pancake and cover the pan with a lid for about one more minute to allow the brown sugar to melt. Repeat until all balls have been formed into hotteok.

Notes

  • You do not need to wait for instant dry yeast to activate. If you use active dry yeast, mix the milk, sugar, yeast, and salt first and let rest for about 10 minutes before adding the flour to give the yeast a chance to activate.
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