Monday, November 14, 2011

Homemade Pepero/Pocky Sticks

November 11th is Pepero Day.  It's pretty similar to Valentine's Day in that children and couples exchange gifts of this chocolate-dipped stick.  It gets pretty out of control.  More pepero are sold in the two weeks leading up to this holiday than all the other weeks of the year combined.  There's even a song.

There are several layers of double-entendres to add cheesiness to this day of marketing ploys.  Because Pepero resembles sticks, 11/11 is meant to commemorate the Pepero silhouette.  Pepero is also supposed to serve as inspiration - to be long and thin like a Pepero stick.  How disturbing.  Also, Pepero Day is meant for couples so if 11 represents a person, 11/11 represents a couple.  How gay.   This past Pepero Day was 11/11/11, so it was THREESOME ULTIMATE PEPERO DAY!

Apparently there was a lot of hype surrounding this "once in a millenium" (technically a century) Pepero Day.  But really the biggest piece of news was what Hyori had to say about this holiday.  (To be read in a heavily sarcastic tone.)

To honor this day of being skinny by eating lots of chocolate, I decided to make my own Pepero.  It's basically a crunchy breadstick covered in chocolate.  To make the "crunchy breadstick", I found a recipe for grissini, Italian breadsticks, but modified it by substituting flour for semolina and doing away with the sesame seeds.

Grissini Recipe
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon warm water
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
A pinch of granulated sugar
3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Place 1/4 cup of the warm water in a small bowl and sprinkle over the yeast. Add a pinch of sugar and stir the yeast to dissolve it. Set the bowl aside to proof for 5 to 7 minutes

Get the flour and salt into a bowl and mix.  Check the yeast to make sure it has proofed; it will be appear foamy, with bubbles forming on the surface.  (If you're making regular grissini, now is a good time to add in a few healthy tablespoons of any combination of the following: oregano, marjoram, basil, parsley, rosemary, or sesame.)  Add the the yeast, remaining water, and olive oil to the flour and salt mixture.

Knead the dough until it is relatively smooth and velvety (about 10 minutes).

Place the dough in a clean mixing bowl greased with olive oil, turning the dough once to coat it with the olive oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it in a warm, draft-free area to rise until tripled in bulk, about 2 1/2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Cover some baking sheets in parchment paper.  You can use oil to grease the pan if you don't have parchment paper.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured board and divide it into 8 even-sized pieces. Work with one piece of dough at a time, and cover the other pieces with a damp towel or plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out.

The first time I made these grissini, the breadsticks ended up looking like chubby poo fingers.

At least they tasted good.
Hand-rolling sounds rustic and romantic, but your breadsticks will end up looking like moronically deformed twigs.  To deal with this, I used a knife to cut the breadsticks out then rolled a little here and there to touch up any unevenness.

Bake them for 14 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through the baking time to ensure even browning. The breadsticks are done when they are an even, light golden brown; the ends may brown more than the center but this is normal.

Allow the breadsticks to cool completely on the baking sheets.

Pepero Assembly
couple of ounces of dark, milk, and/or white chocolate
very finely chopped nuts
grissini breadsticks (If you don't feel like making your own breadsticks, you can buy naked Pepero sticks at Bangsan Market which is where I bought my chocolate and variety of sprinkles for 2,000 won per pack.)

I didn't end up using the packaged Pepero sticks.  The grissini tasted much better.

Prepare a kind of buffet of different toppings.  Spread out each topping on a clean countertop in long, vertical piles.

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave.  If using the microwave, keep checking and stirring every 30 seconds or so to make sure you don't scorch the chocolate.  For the double boiler, whisk the chocolate as it melts.  Whatever the method, you're going for a smooth, satiny chocolate that drips easily off the whisk.

Pour the chocolate into a tall, narrow container like a tumbler.  I used a martini shaker because it's metal. I kept it on the stove in a hot water bath to keep the chocolate runny and dip-able.

Dip the sticks and shake them to rid them of excess run-off.

Then roll the sticks in whatever topping pile.  Pinch some of the topping to cover up any bald spots.  Because you're using homemade breadsticks, the toppings will require some manipulation in order to get them to cover the breadstick evenly.

You can also use different colored chocolates to drizzle and write on the Pepero.  Do NOT buy the little tubes of colored chocolates.  They're a total pain to work with.  They bust open.  They taste gritty and gross.

All 2,000 won each including the bag of melting chocolate. 
I candied some ginger and chopped it up really fine to use as a topping.  It was probably my favorite topping.

Candied ginger and dark chocolate - a winning combination.
Place the newly formed Pepero stick onto a piece of parchment paper to dry (20 minutes or so).

This is why you don't want to buy the tubes of chocolate.  They suck.
I had quite a bit of leftover dough and no love left to roll out any more grissini, so I threw the rest of the dough into a ceramic bowl and into a 400 degree F oven for 45 minutes.  Out came some beautiful bread.

Yom Yom!


  1. Joyce it looks awsome. Especially the ones with the little heart ;)

  2. The shapes of the pepero sticks gave me a good laugh. Haha, super cute! And I love your ingenious idea of using grissini~



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