If you’re craving those deliciously chewy and caramelly pops that are seemingly everywhere on social media, look no further. Inspired by brown sugar bubble tea, the Taiwanese ice cream treats are easy to make at home. Our recipe includes instructions for the boba (bubbles) too, since the store-bought pearls used in the drinks are made from tapioca starch, which becomes quite hard when frozen. After trying various options, we found glutinous rice flour yields the ideal texture, even after a stint in the freezer.
For the boba mixture: Stir together the 3/4 cup rice flour and 1/4 cup of the brown sugar in a medium heatproof bowl. Add the boiling water and stir until fully combined and no streaks of flour remain. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface, reserving the bowl, and knead until spongy and pliable, about 2 minutes. It should resemble soft clay.
Place the remaining 2 tablespoons rice flour in the same bowl. Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time, roll into a rope about 1/4-inch thick, then cut the rope into 1/4-inch-wide segments. Roll each segment into a ball, then place in the bowl. Gently toss all the balls from that piece of dough with the flour to prevent sticking and clumping. Repeat with the remaining 3 pieces of dough.
Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over medium heat. Using a slotted spoon, sift the excess rice flour from the balls, then place them in the boiling water. Stir gently at first to prevent clumping and then allow the balls to cook until they all float, about 3 minutes. Drain the boba balls, reserving the saucepan.
Transfer the boba back to the saucepan and add the remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar, the molasses and 1/2 cup water. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the brown sugar and molasses become thick and syrupy, 8 to 10 minutes. (The mixture should be slightly thicker than maple syrup.) Transfer the boba mixture to a medium bowl and refrigerate until completely cooled, about 1 hour.
For the ice cream pops: When the boba mixture is ready, make the ice cream base. Stir together the condensed milk and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Whip the heavy cream in a large bowl with an electric hand mixer on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, 4 to 5 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, fold one-third of the whipped cream into the salted condensed milk until combined, then fold this mixture into the remaining whipped cream until fully incorporated.
Fill each ice pop mold with 2 tablespoons of the ice cream base, followed by 2 teaspoons of the boba mixture (see Cook’s Note). Fill the remaining space in the molds with more ice cream base, then drizzle about 1/2 teaspoon of the boba syrup on top. Using a small spoon or small offset spatula, run it through the ice cream to create swirls of boba and syrup. Insert the ice pop sticks, then gently tap the molds on the work surface to release any air bubbles. Carefully transfer the molds to the freezer and freeze for at least 8 hours or, ideally, overnight.
There will be extra boba mixture. Use it to make another batch of ice cream pops or even a brown sugar boba tea to enjoy while you wait for the pops to freeze. The mixture will keep, tightly covered in the refrigerator, for up to 2 weeks.
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