1. Line a cutting board with a silicone, non-stick baking mat or a piece of parchment paper, to prevent sticking.
2. Place ladle, measuring cup, or skillet over medium-low heat and pre-heat for 30–60 seconds, until hot.
3. Carefully pour the sugar into your hot cooking vessel, and immediately stir with your chopstick or spoon. Stirring the sugar constantly as it caramelizes will help to prevent crystallization. If the sugar begins to clump up, that’s ok — continue to stir and everything will eventually melt.
4. After 2-3 minutes of continuous stirring over medium-low heat (and approximately 15–20 seconds after the last bits of sugar have dissolved), you’ll be left with a mixture somewhere between amber and golden-brown. Carefully remove the cooking vessel from the heat, add the baking soda, and stir vigorously for 5–10 seconds.
5. As soon as the mixture is a frothy, pale amber, carefully pour it out onto your prepared cutting board. If you’d like to “flatten” your dalgona candy, here’s where you could press an object like a glass or measuring cup on top of it to press it to an even circle. If not, use your chopstick or spoon to gently form the mass into an even thickness.
6. Wait until the dalgona candy is becoming tacky — not molten — before pressing your cookie cutter into it. If you flattened your candy, wait 15–20 seconds. If you didn’t, wait 25–30 seconds. Gently press your cookie cutter into the candy until it almost touches the bottom, then carefully remove it.
7. Resist the urge to dig in until the dalgona candy is completely set — around 5 minutes.
Note: to clean up any sticky caramel bits, let everything soak in very hot water until easily cleaned with a sponge.