Milk tea cookies with chewy “boba” bits

I really was inspired to make this dessert from seeing all of the “boba” desserts on Instagram. Truthfully, the idea of eating boba that is not warm and soft doesn’t appeal to me, and more times than not, boba sitting out on a pie or a cheesecake will turn hard and cold really quickly. Then I remembered when I made the tiger sugar popsicles with the chewy “boba” bits last year, and then it hit me: make a boba cookie, using mochi instead of boba so that it stays chewy and soft! And that’s where this recipe came from. I used mochi in place of boba, and swirled together a milk cookie and a hojicha(toasted green tea) cookie, just to create an almost tiger sugar-like appearance, and to really capture the essence of boba milk tea in a cookie.

So reasons why mochi works better in this cookie than boba ever would: it holds up to both the heat and cold better, with a more consistent texture in both cases. When you cool down tapioca pearls, they turn into literal rocks. When you heat them up, they can be soft, but the moment they are no longer warm, they harden up again instantly. With mochi, it holds well in heat because it’s made from steaming the dough already, so the starches are already cooked off, leading to a softer end product. It holds well in baking because of that as well, and even if you freeze the cookies, the mochi will stay soft as well! So while this cookie does not have real boba in it, it will still taste as if it does! Traditional boba does contain a ton of molasses to make it dark, but I just went ahead with activated charcoal, since I have that in my pantry. These mochi bits literally will look and taste like boba that’s been soaking in dark brown sugar syrup, which is kind of what I was aiming for.

For the “boba” bits:
1/2 cup mochiko
1/4 cup water
a pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon activated charcoal
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
cornstarch

Mix mochiko, water, salt, and charcoal until it forms a loose batter. Steam the batter for 20 minutes. In a nonstick pan, heat up the sugar and then stir the steamed mochi batter into it, stirring until the sugar is fully dissolved into the dough. Pour onto a cornstarch-lined surface and dust on all sides. Cut into 1/4-inch cubes. Freeze these until firm, at least 2 hours.

For the milk dough:
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup milk powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Whip the butter, sugar, milk powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together for 10 minutes, or until light and airy. Mix into that the vanilla and egg, then fold in the flour. Fold into that mixture half of your mochi bits.

For the hojicha dough:
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons hojicha powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Whip the butter, sugar, hojicha powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together for 10 minutes, or until light and airy. Mix into that the vanilla and egg, then fold in the flour. Mix together with the other cookie dough, mixing in more mochi bits between the two doughs as well. Portion out 14 to 16 cookies and place at least 2 inches apart on a lined sheet tray. Bake at 375 degrees F for 14 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through to guarantee even baking.

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