All week, I was set on making the ultimate bubble tea recipe. I bought the boba and those fat, colorful bubble tea straws. I researched how to cook tapioca pearls to chewy perfection. I tried cooking the boba for different lengths of time, with different amounts of water, over different temperatures. I tested ratios of tea to milk. I even made a gingery, spicy sugar syrup that would take the bubble tea into cozy autumnal territory.
It was a disaster.
Despite all my attempts, the boba never turned out right. Ooozing on the outside, starchy, hard, and unpleasant in the middle, I just couldn’t turn those tapioca pearls into the bouncy boba I saw in restaurants and cafés. I was disappointed and had to toss each batch I worked on.
But all was not lost: It occurred to me that there was one very successful part of this failed recipe—the spiced simple syrup. I realized it would taste damn good in another drink. I went back to the drawing board. I decided to veer away from tea and make the drink with strong iced coffee instead, for an extra-caffeinated buzz.
Oh, and rum. Because if there wasn’t going to be any boba in my beverage, there might as well be alcohol in it.
As much as I love coming up with new and exciting ideas for original recipes, a part of me absolutely adores all those “copycat” recipes I see on Pinterest. You know the kind: “Copycat Red Lobster Biscuits!” “Little Debbie Cosmic Brownie Copycat Recipe!” “Copycat Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Double Chocolate Chip Frappuccino!” The idea of being able to make a perfectly engineered, big-name food product at home with real ingredients is undeniably appealing (I can make Girl Scout cookies at home? Year-round? Without having to chase down a little girl in a green vest? Sign me up!) .
Pretty much every day is a donut day for me. (That’s what I get for working in a café/ artisanal donut bakery/ carb heaven.) Whether I’m drooling over the cinnamon scrolls during my shift or making my own donuts at home in my freakin’ adorable mini donut pan, there’s no shortage of sugary, hole-y baked goods in my life. I even had cream-filled donuts instead of a cake at my wedding reception. Things are serious.
So how do I not get all donutted out? The ugly truth is, sometimes I do. During those dark times, I do unthinkable things like drink ginger shots and meal-prep quinoa for the week (gasp!). But my love of donuts is always, always rekindled. The key to falling in love with donuts all over again is to have a particularly special donut day, one in which I have a donut that’s so well-made, so creative, or so satisfying that it recharges my passion for donuts entirely.
Today is one of those special donut days. Today, I present you with a donut-mochi hybrid that brings together the squishy texture and starchy flavor of sweet rice flour with the cuteness of a donut. The individual donuts themselves are relatively thin, and thus work well sandwiched together with a red bean filling in the middle. Spoon a coconut milk glaze on top and prepare for your faith in donuts to be restored.
This post is partially inspired by the fact that my little brothers (Roman, 15, Blaise, 12, and Nash, 10) are utterly convinced that I eat nothing but oatmeal and donuts. They made this known to me when I was visiting them in Ohio earlier this month.
Thanks to jet lag, I woke up early on my first morning there and decided to make breakfast. I whipped up a batch of my savory Asiago waffles, always a hit in the Malczewski household, and offered them to my brothers as they rolled out of bed and trickled into the kitchen. At least one of them looked at the waffles, wrinkled his nose, and remarked, “You didn’t put oatmeal in there, did you? You put oatmeal in everything!” To which I answered “No, but I’m sure oats would taste DAMN GOOD in these waffles” and got extremely defensive.
(The next day I made oat waffles, just to spite him.)
The chill in the air that’s creeped in this past week is lifting me out of a funk that’s been weighing me down lately. Leo and I returned from our long-awaited trip to Ohio a few weeks ago. I had been looking forward to that trip for so long, and with good reason: the highlight of our stay was Part Two of our wedding reception, a party in the backyard of my parents’ brand-spankin’-new house. My friends and family from Ohio mingled with my friends from New York (not to mention my husband from London!). There were hundreds of cream-filled donuts, cookies shaped like hydrangeas, and a soft-serve ice cream machine. My little brothers and cousins played yard games and skipped stones in the creek, swinging from tree branches and wreaking light havoc. It was joyful and buzzy and summery—the kind of gorgeous day where you have to pause for a second and tell yourself to soak it all in, because it’s something you want to remember for a long, long time.