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As a Taiwanese-born-American, I have had boba milk tea as a core dessert my whole life. Unfortunately, boba contains 299 calories and 38g of sugar (source), and, as I am getting older, maintaining a fit body requires more than just working out. I have recently become wary of my sugar intake as well as orienting my diet around healthy foods, which means cutting down on boba.
Even though boba is no longer one of my go-to desserts, I still dream about that delectable chewiness. One day, I was craving boba and taro/sweet potato balls at the same time, and realized that I could make healthier boba with purple sweet potato instead of tapioca. Sweet potatoes are a rich source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals — whereas tapioca is essentially pure starch. That being said, these purple sweet potato balls still contain high amounts of starch, but the nutritional value from the purple sweet potatoes is healthier than tapioca.
So, I got to work! First, I skinned a cup of purple sweet potato and chopped it up into small squares. Then, I poured 1/4 cup of water with all the squares into a bowl. I placed a plate big enough to cover the circumference of the bowl on top and microwaved them in 1 min intervals (usually 3 intervals will do the trick) on high while slowly mashing them until they turned into a smooth dark purple paste.
Now, it was time to make the dough. I mixed half a cup of sweet potato starch into the mashed purple sweet potato, and kneaded it until it formed a firm lump of dough. During this process, you can add water if the mixture becomes too crumbly, or add more starch if the mixture is too soft. Also, note that more starch means more chewiness!
Then, I got another bowl (this is where pre-cooked boba will go) and poured about a tablespoon of starch in. I took bits of the dough to roll them into balls, and dusted them off in the bowl by shaking the bowl in a circular motion. If you don’t have enough starch to completely cover the balls, then you can add more.
After rolling the dough into balls, the last step was to cook the boba. While I boiled water in a saucepan, I got another bowl (this is where the cooked boba will go) and filled it with iced water. I also got another bowl (this is where the cooled boba will go) and mixed 2 tablespoons of brown sugar with a 1/4 cup of hot water. You can also add more sugar if you want the boba to be sweeter.
Once the water in the saucepan started boiling, I poured in the boba. After 2-3 minutes, the boba should begin to rise to the top. Keep cooking them for another 1-2 minutes when that happens. Using a strainer, I scooped out the boba and poured them into the bowl of iced water. I stirred the boba in the iced water to prevent them from sticking together for about half a minute to a minute. Then, I poured the cooled boba into the bowl of brown sugar and water. The brown sugar and water will also help prevent the boba from sticking together when you store it in the fridge.
And voilà! Hopefully you have chewy boba after reading this. Thanks for reading!
- 1 cup of purple sweet potato
- 1/4 cup of water
- 3/4 cup of sweet potato starch
- 1 bowl of iced water
- 2 tbsp of brown sugar
- 1/4 cup of hot water
- Skin and chop 1 cup of purple sweet potato into small squares.
- Put the chopped sweet potato into a bowl and add 1/4 cup of water. Cover the top with a plate.
- Microwave the sweet potato 3 times or until it’s soft enough to be completely mashed in 1 minute intervals on high. Mash the sweet potato in between intervals.
- Mix in 1/2 cup of sweet potato starch and knead once the starch is mostly mixed in. Knead until a firm dough is formed.
- Take a separate bowl and pour the rest of the sweet potato starch. Then, take bits of the dough and roll into balls in whatever size you’d like. Dust off the balls to prevent them from sticking in the bowl of starch by shaking the bowl in a circular motion.
- Boil water in a saucepan. While boiling, prepare a bowl of iced water for the cooked boba to cool off in (the ice is very important because this make the boba chewy!). In another bowl, mix 2 tbsp of brown sugar with 1/4 cup of water (this is where the cooled boba will go).
- Once boiling, pour in medium amounts of your boba at a time. Cook for 1-2 more minutes once the boba begin to rise to the top. Then, using a strainer, scoop out the boba and pour it out into the bowl of iced water. Frequently stir the cooling boba to prevent them from sticking.
- After cooling all the boba for at least 1-2 minutes, using a strainer, transfer the boba into your brown sugar and water mixture. Stir the boba to completely cover it in the mixture.