18 June 2012

Bubble Tea Cookies!

I know that this sounds really cheesy, but I had a dream in which I was making bubble tea cake. I remember considering the logistics of the cake - how would it stand? Where do the bubbles go? How much does it have to look like a container of bubble tea? Straw? Do the bubbles stay at the bottom or are they distributed evenly throughout the (tea) cake? I remember applying bright orange icing to a cake shaped like a bubble tea container in the dream; in fact, it looked like this, except it was standing vertically and lacked the bottom and top. The rest of the dream seemed to be slightly morose, but I don't remember. 

Note: Throughout this post, I will refer to these tapioca pearls/bubble tea bubbles as "tapioca pearls" for consistency.

It turns out that no one has yet BAKED a tapioca pearl cake (or at least, I REALLY hope no one has ever done it). So, it's a race against time: I need to bake tapioca pearls into some sort of attractive cake thing, and post it on here. It will be an original product. When some famous celebrity chef finally does it in the future, people will search for recipes. MINE WILL SHOW UP and I WILL BE KNOWN AS THE ONE WHO DID IT BEFORE IT WAS COOL.

But first, what happens when you bake tapioca pearls?  Do they shrivel up? Or, do they get hot and steamy? Swell up and go hard? Explode? Pop like cherries? (Okay, I'll stop the jokes...)

So, here's a pilot test!
First, I made some cookie dough. I made half a batch of this vegan recipe, but I substituted the baking powder and water with baking soda and balsamic vinegar. There are also no chocolate chips or marshmallows. I added the balsamic vinegar right before adding the tapioca pearls, because the vinegar reacts with the baking soda.

Rehydrating "5-minute" tapioca pearls! A few months ago, they were $1.68, but now they are $1.98 at the underground Chinese grocery store in Chinatown :(. Throughout the semester, I would do this by boiling water using the electric kettle, pouring this water into my loose tea leaves in a tea strainer, sugar, and pearls, and cover my mug with a lid. After stirring about every 3 minutes for 10 minutes or so, the pearls would be chewy and edible.
However, I think that the pearls taste much better and are plumper when heated in boiling sweet tea on the stove.
For heating these instant tapioca pearls, I used about 1/4 of a saucepan of water, a handful of tapioca pearls and a tablespoon of brown sugar. There wasn't any tea in this rehydration, but I did use the leftover sugar mixture for tea.

After the pearls were cooked, I fished them out with a tea strainer and plonked them into the cookie dough. Leaving them in hot water for too long renders the whole pearl to taste uniform and starchy (well, it happened once, and I do not want to risk it happening again). After a quick mix, I scooped out the dough and baked the cookies according to that recipe. The mixture was really crumbly (think sand-like), so what I did was scoop up a tablespoon, squeeze my hand against the spoon, and keep squeezing until a ball was formed. The dough was kind of spongy.
AND THEY WORKED! They harden as they cool, so I ended up with crispy (but delicious) cookies that were devoured by my friends and SP. SP ate 5/12ths of the batch (of 12 cookies). The cookie recipe produced cookies that remind me of the almond cookies, like these, I used to get for 2 HKD  in HK near my piano exam place.
The tapioca pearls were chewy, not dry, and delicious! So, I will make a cake next time!
On the 18th day of the 6th month of the 2012th year of our wholesome flying spaghetti monster, I, PIE-314, OFFICIALLY MADE THE FIRST TAPIOCA PEARL COOKIES. EVER.


  1. Lmao!! This is so funny that you post this. I went for bubble tea 2 weekends ago and i LOVE boba. I thought to myself...I would eat boba all the time if I could, why is it that I only get it in bubble tea??
    and then I thought..WHAT IF I COOK WITH IT? So, awaiting obtaining boba, I will be cooking savory recipes with boba.

    This is AWESOME though! I would love love to try boba cookies and boba cake........drool

    1. I love tapioca everything! Why savoury recipes in particular? That sounds really exciting...Hmm boba pizza would be pretty interesting... Actually, no, boba in cheese pierogies. Super squeaky!

    2. Savory because that's my favorite kind of food ^_^ I'm not much of a baker at all. The stovetop is my domain! Plus the sweet squishy pops of boba would be a neat contrast to salty savoriness.

    3. Ah, ok. That would be pretty neat :)

  2. I'm really glad I found this because I had this crazy idea to make milk tea bubble cookies and I had to know, "What happens when you bake tapioca pearls?" You've answered my question thank you. I am going to make a cookie with small pearls, not bubble tea sized pearls so I hope they are still chewy. Any tips? How long were you able to store the cookies for?

    1. The tapioca lasted about a day before drying out. Maybe they would dry out slower in a more humid environment? I'm really not sure!