Ever tried Brown Sugar Boba Ice Cream Bars? This Asian frozen dessert has been a viral sensation around the world recently. It has a delicious combination of sweet, creamy ice cream and soft, chewy bubble tea pearls. Here is an easy recipe (+video) showing you how to make this special treat at home, rivaling the popular Boba popsicles from Shao Mei.
Boba ice cream bars have become a new trend, and bubble tea lovers are going wild over these bubble tea popsicles. Of course you can buy this frozen snack at grocery stores like H Mart, but they are so expensive (could be as high as $12/box) and often sold out. The good news is that it’s actually quite easy to make at home with just a few ingredients. Once you learn how to make Boba Popsicles you’ll be hooked!
What is Boba Ice Cream Bar?
Boba Ice Cream is the combination of ice cream and boba, in a popsicle form with marbling effects. Boba is also known as bubble tea, a milk-based tea with tapioca pearls. Boba ice cream is frozen ice cream bar with tons of soft and chewy bubble tea pearls inside.
It’s originally from Taiwan, China. Shao Mei (or Xiao Mei) is the brand that started this hype, and more brands like Tiger Sugar and Yi-Mei have joined this trend. There are different versions of boba ice cream, and my favorite is the brown sugar boba ice cream bars with delicious brown sugar syrup flavor.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Glutinous Rice Flour – The key to the best boba that stays soft when frozen is to use glutinous rice flour. Note that it WON’T work if you use the traditional tapioca flour for this recipe. You can find the glutinous rice flour in most Asian grocery stores, or order it online from Amazon.
- Brown Sugar – Helps to create the caramel flavored homemade brown sugar syrup like nothing you’ve ever tasted. Best to use dark brown sugar for a more intense flavor, and a darker marbling.
- Cornstarch – You’ll need cornstarch to make the slurry to thicken the brown sugar syrup.
- Heavy Cream – It’ll give your ice cream bar a smooth texture and creamy taste.
- Condensed Milk – Adds sweetness and a custardy mouthfeel. Not to be confused with evaporated milk.
Note: You’ll also need a popsicle mold for creating the bars. In general, silicone popsicle molds are easier to clean and unmold. If you don’t have a popsicle mold, you can use yogurt containers, muffin tin, and ice cube trays.
How to Make Brown Sugar Boba Ice Cream Bars at Home
Step 1: Prepare Brown Sugar Syrup
- Add brown sugar and water to a saucepan and cook until the water boils and the sugar completely dissolves.
- Mix the cornstarch with water and add the slurry to the saucepan. Cook until it thickens. (Set aside and let it cool to room temperature).
Step 2: Make Boba Pearls
- Mix together glutinous rice flour, brown sugar, and boiling water. Transfer the dough to a flat surface dusted with glutinous rice and knead until a spongy dough forms.
- Pinch off a piece of dough and roll it into a small ball, about 1/4 inch in diameter. Repeat the process for the rest of the dough. (Dust with glutinous rice to prevent them from sticking to each other)
- Boil the balls until they become soft.
- Drain the water. Then add brown sugar and cooked balls to the pot. Mix until the balls are evenly coated with sugar.
Step 3: Prepare the Ice Cream Mixture
- Beat the heavy cream until soft peaks have formed.
- Add condensed milk, continue beating until everything’s well combined.
Step 4: Make Boba Ice Cream Bar
- Add the brown sugar coated boba balls to the ice cream mixture. Mix well. Add the mixture to a zip-top bag. Cut the corner of the bag.
- Squeeze the brown sugar syrup into the popsicle mold using a squeeze bottle. Then squeeze the mixture into the popsicle mold. Place in the freezer for 6 hours or overnight.
Pro Tips for this Recipe
- It’s important to cook the brown sugar syrup until it thickens. Note that the syrup will become thicker once it cools down.
- Make sure to use glutinous rice flour for this recipe. The tapioca flour won’t work for this recipe. The packaged tapioca pearls won’t work either, as they’ll become rock hard when frozen.
- As the uncooked boba balls are very sticky, you’ll need to sprinkle with glutinous rice flour to prevent it from sticking.
- Don’t make the boba balls too big, as they might not fit into your popsicle mold.
- The most time-consuming part of this recipe is to shape the dough into small boba pearls. Get the kids involved and be patient. It’s totally worth the effort!
- After adding the mixture to the popsicle mold, make sure to tap the mold on the counter a few times to release the trapped air.
Best Way to Unmold the Popsicle?
My favorite way to unmold popsicles is to fill a container (as tall as the mold) with warm (not hot) water. Then briefly dip the mold in until the popsicles loosen. It takes about 20 to 30 seconds. Then remove the mold from the water immediately.
Milk Tea Brown Sugar Boba Ice Cream
In this recipe, I used the regular ice cream flavor. If you’d like to try milk tea flavor, you can boil the heavy cream first, and add the green tea bag. Then chill the tea-infused heavy cream before making the ice cream.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to Keep Boba Soft in Boba Ice Cream?
The traditional tapioca pearls become rock hard when frozen, so avoid using packaged tapioca or using tapioca flour for this recipe. In order to have a bouncy and chewy texture, you’ll need to use glutinous rice flour to make boba pearls, which will stay stretchy and soft once frozen.
What Do Boba Ice Cream Popsicles Taste Like?
This boba ice cream has a unique texture that’s very creamy and soft, with bouncy and chewy boba pearls that are stretchy like mochi cake. I like the caramel flavor which adds extra richness to this treat.
Can I Use Store-bought Tapioca Pearls?
No. The packaged tapioca pearls work well for boba tea, but they DO NOT work for this recipe as they’ll become so hard when frozen.
Where to Buy Boba Ice Cream Bars?
You can find them at some local Chinese grocery stores or H-mart. It’s stored in the freezer section.
If You Like This Recipe Try These Out
If you tried this recipe, let me know how your Boba Ice Cream Bars turn out in the comments below!
Boba Ice Cream Recipe (+VIDEO)
For the Brown Sugar Syrup
- 3/4 cup brown sugar (use dark brown sugar if you prefer the dark-color marbling)
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 3 tablespoon water
For Boba Pearls
- 1 cup glutinous rice flour (regular glutinous flour with green text on the package, plus more for dusting)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar (plus 1/4 cup to coat the cooked boba)
- 1/3 cup boiling water
For the Ice Cream
- 1 ¾ cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup condensed milk
Prepare Brown Sugar Syrup
- Add 3/4 cup brown sugar and water to a saucepan and quickly stir everything together. Cook on medium-high until the water boils and the sugar completely dissolves.
- Mix the cornstarch with water and add the slurry to the saucepan. Cook until it thickens. (Don’t taste as it’ll be very hot.)
- Remove the saucepan from heat and let the brown sugar syrup cool down. Transfer the syrup to a squeeze bottle and set aside.
Make Boba Pearls
- Whisk together glutinous rice flour and 1/2 cup brown sugar in a large mixing bowl.
- Slowly add boiling water and mix with a spatula until everything is combined. (Don’t worry if your dough is not smooth yet.)
- Transfer the dough to a flat surface and knead until a spongy dough forms, and it’s soft and sticky.
- In a large baking sheet, sprinkle more glutinous rice.
- Pinch off a piece of dough and roll it into a small ball, about 1/4 inch in diameter. Place the finished balls onto the baking sheet. Repeat the process for the rest of the dough. Sprinkle more glutinous rice on top.
- Bring about 4 cups of water to boil in a medium pot.
- Add the balls to the pot (try to dust off the extra flour). Cook for about 2-3 minutes until they float to the top and become soft.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the pearls from the hot water.
- In a medium-large skillet, add 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and add the cooked pearls immediately. Stir constantly until the sugar is caramelized and the pearls are evenly coated. Transfer to a flat plate and set aside.
Make the Ice Cream
- In a large bowl beat the heavy cream until soft peaks have formed.
- Add condensed milk, continue beating until everything’s well combined. (Don’t over beat the mixture).
Make Boba Ice Cream Bars
- Add the pearls into the ice cream and mix gently until the Boba pearls are evenly distributed.
- Fill a large zip-top bag with the mixture. Cut the tip of the bag off at the 1/2-inch mark.
- Squeeze the brown sugar syrup into the popsicle mold using a squeeze bottle. Make sure to squeeze at the top so that the syrup won’t accumulate at the bottom.
- Squeeze the ice cream mixture into the mold. Make sure to tap the mold on the counter several times in order to remove bubbles. (This is a very important step, otherwise, your bars will have holes in them).
- Place the ice cream bars into the freezer and let them freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Unmold Boba Popsicles
- Prepare a bowl or container of warm water. (The bowl should be as tall as the mold)
- Remove the mold from the freezer. Dip the mold into the water briefly (20-30 seconds.)
- Remove the bars from the mold. Serve and enjoy immediately.
- To add the milk tea flavor, you’ll need to simmer the heavy cream with the tea bag in a saucepan. Then let it chill before mixing with condensed milk.
- I recommend using dark brown sugar for the better flavour and better marbling.