I confess: I have actually never encountered yullan in Korea. Koreans traditionally eat fruit for dessert (or have a sweet drink or some type of rice cake.) But I saw this recipe and I love chestnuts, so I decided to include it in my Korean Food Project. I also liked the facts that the recipe was simple and the dish is quite unique. After all, how often do you see a recipe for chestnut-based cookies? It seems like a perfect dish for the holidays.
Yullan (Chestnut Ball Cookies) — 율란
- 30 chestnuts*
- 5 Tbs. sugar
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 4 Tbs. pine nuts, finely chopped
*You can use fresh or dried chestnuts for this recipe. Fresh is probably best because they will mash better, but if you use dried chestnuts, just soak them beforehand and boil them for longer (more like an hour).
- Boil the chestnuts in their shells, 10-15 minutes.
- Remove shells and skin.
- Heat sugar and a little water until it turns to liquid, then add chestnuts and simmer.
- When the mixture sticks together, form into balls and roll them in the chopped nuts.***
- Sprinkle with cinnamon.
- **The finer you mash the chestnuts, the better. If your chestnut bits are too large, you will have a hard time forming the paste into shapes.
- ***If the nuts do not stick well, first roll the balls in a little honey.
- NOTE: My yullan were round and ended up looking like donut holes, but it is also popular to form yullan into fat teardrop shapes, like that of real chestnuts. You can also reserve the chopped pine nut coating only for the bottom of the yullan. Doing so will make yullan easier to pick up and eat since people then won’t get pine nuts all over their fingers. (Yullan is a finger food.)