The Squid Game honeycomb challenge, among other games featured in the South Korean survival thriller, has sparked curiosity among many Netflix viewers who are intrigued to see whether they could beat the characters from the show. Naturally, I wanted to test my honeycomb carving skills under pressure too. However, the process ended up being a lot harder than I expected, even though I only needed two ingredients.
But before we dive into the my disastrous experience in attempting to make Squid Game's honeycomb candy, let's sum up the show for those who are unfamiliar.
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In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past month, Squid Game has quickly become a streaming sensation with the potential to become the most-watched Netflix show of all time, rivaling shows like Bridgerton and Emily In Paris. In short, the survival thriller is a mixture of Hunger Games and Battle Royale. The plot unfolds as 456 people struggling with debt join a mysterious series of children's games to win a ₩45.6 billion prize (or $38.7 million in U.S. dollars). The only downside? Well, whenever a player is eliminated, they die.
The TV show featured a number of children's games, such as "Red light, green light", "Stepping stones" and more. And while we're more or less familiar with the format of such games, recreating the exact scenarios is tricky in real life. However, one of the games is really easy to try out at home (taking out the elimination factor, of course). And that's the honeycomb challenge.
What is the honeycomb challenge?
To put it simply, the player is given a flat candy made of sugar and baking soda with a pre-carved shape in the middle. Each player needs to separate the shape from the surrounding part of the candy without it cracking or breaking. In order to do so, players can be creative with their methods, though the only tool that is available is either a toothpick or an ordinary sewing needle. Oh, and the task also has to be done within a 10-minute time limit.
But if you want to attempt to pass the game at home, carving out the shape isn't even the most difficult part of the challenge. Full disclosure, the process of making the honeycomb candy (also referred to as "dalgona candy") is much harder than it looks. Although the recipe only involves two basic ingredients that can be easily found in any household, the technique itself is quite tricky. I, for one, only managed to get it right after my sixth attempt having wasted half a pack of sugar and spending at least five minutes cleaning the pan after each failed attempt. So if you don't want to grow sick of the smell of caramelized sugar, keep reading.
Below, I've prepared a step-by-step guide based on countless YouTube and TikTok videos that I've watched on how to try the honeycomb challenge from Squid Game, while also keeping in mind the difficulties that you may encounter and the things that you should avoid. Basically, I spent a good two hours trying to make the candy again and again so you don't have to.
Here are the tools and ingredients that you will need:
- White sugar (we used caster sugar) - 3 tablespoons per candy
- Baking soda - a small pinch per candy
- Non-stick frying pan
- Baking tray
- Non-stick wax paper
- Small cookie cutters
- Something you can use as a press (we used a container lid)
- Any oil to grease your press and the cookie cutters (we used sunflower oil)
- Toothpick or sewing needle
How to make the honeycomb candy from Squid Game
Before diving into the cooking process, prep your station and tools accordingly and make sure that all you need is within close reach. For once, you can be prepared for a Squid Game. Place your baking tray next to your stove and lay out the non-stick wax paper on top.
Make sure to generously grease the press for the candy and the cookie cutters to prevent them from sticking later in the process.
1. Heat up your frying pan on medium-high heat. Once heated, add your white sugar (we advise three tablespoons per candy). If this is your first time, try not to make more than one candy at a time, as getting the proportions right could get tricky.
2. Be patient so that the sugar starts melting gradually. Try mixing it with a silicon spatula, chopsticks or a spoon once the melting process begins. It should look a bit lumpy as shown in the picture below.
3. Keep mixing until your melted sugar acquires that caramel-like color, but be careful not to burn it. At this stage, lower the heat to medium.
4. Add a pinch of baking soda in, but don't add more than that as your candy might end up tasting weird. Mix well and your mixture should become foamy and get a slightly creamy color.
5. Once the baking soda is incorporated with all the caramelized sugar, take your pan and pour the mixture onto the wax paper on your baking tray. Try to hold your pan firmly so that the mixture pours in one spot, creating a circular shape.
6. Wait about 4-5 seconds until the bubbling settles down a bit and press the mixture down with your pre-greased pressing instrument of choice. Give it a firm press, but be careful not to press too hard, as the candy will harden too quickly and it might break when you use the cookie cutter.
It's important to press your candy while the mixture is still hot, otherwise it may be resistant to the pressure. Try to also apply pressure towards the center of your press, so that the candy spreads evenly, recreating an almost-perfect circle.
7. In a swift and circular motion, turn the press around and lift it gently. It should come off without any sticking. Steps 6-7 are the hardest ones to get right, so don't get discouraged if you didn't get it right the first time. You can try switching out your pressing tool for something else.
Traditionally, the dalgona candy is made with a metal press that resembles a burger press, but you can opt for anything else with a flat surface instead. Some people have used a frying pan, a dish, while we've used a container lid. And don't be shy with the oil, you can always pat the excess off of the candy later.
8. Once you've successfully pressed your candy, quickly press your cookie cutter right in the middle of the candy and keep it there for a good 5 seconds, then gently lift it up.
9. If you've made it to this step - congrats, the hardest part's over. Just leave your candy to cool off and harden, then carefully take it off the wax paper. In the end, your honeycomb candy should end up looking something like this:
How to complete the honeycomb challenge from Squid Game
Now that you have your honeycomb candy, it's time for the ultimate test. Set a timer for 10 minutes and try to get the shape out of the candy without it breaking or cracking. In the left picture, we tried using a toothpick at first, though the method is quite risky since the toothpick ended up breaking quite quickly. If this happens to you, try using a sewing needle (the instrument the players got) instead.
You can also try Seung Gi-hun's method, which involves flipping the cookie and licking the borders of the shape so that eventually the shape simply falls out. Beware that this method takes more time, and the extremely sweet sugary taste might make you sick. For me, the latter method was more time-consuming, but effective.
I managed to successfully complete the challenge in under 8 minutes.