Brown Sugar Swirled Boba Pie

published Nov 19, 2020
Brown Sugar Swirled Boba Pie

This recipe uses cream cheese sweetened two ways to mimic the rich milky taste and swirls of brown sugar boba.

Serves6 to 8

Prep10 minutes

Cook35 minutes

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Brown sugar boba cream pie on table.
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

I’ll never forget my first brown sugar boba. The inside of my cup was coated in thick lines of syrup that resembled stripes, and though the drink itself was cold, the boba on the bottom were warm from being freshly made. The first sip was everything — smooth from the sweet brown sugar, with chewy boba pearls bouncing everywhere. Brown sugar boba isn’t your typical boba — it’s better.

In 2019, Tiger Sugar opened its first U.S. location in Flushing, Queens. The Taiwanese boba chain claims to have created the original brown sugar boba, a wildly popular drink known for its Instagrammable syrup stripes and sweet taste. When it first opened, the lines were down the block, and even now with several locations in the city, there are often still long waits. Throughout Asia and the U.S., countless other chains have also hopped on the brown sugar trend. Needless to say, I’m not alone in my love for brown sugar boba.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

Any sort of boba dessert always captures my attention, but when I first saw my friend James Park top a pie with boba, that’s when it all clicked. I needed to make a pie that had brown sugar swirls and tasted like the boba I love. This recipe is it.

Unlike other milk teas, brown sugar boba is typically made without any actual tea. Instead, it’s a simple blend of whole milk, the brown sugar syrup, and tapioca. This recipe uses cream cheese sweetened two ways to mimic the rich, milky taste and swirls of the drink. The pie is then chilled and served with warm, sweet boba. Like the original, it lets the brown sugar do all the talking.

Brown Sugar Swirled Boba Pie

This recipe uses cream cheese sweetened two ways to mimic the rich milky taste and swirls of brown sugar boba.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 35 minutes

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info


For the crust:

  • 12

    whole graham crackers (6 to 7 ounces), or 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

  • 7 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

For the filling:

  • 16 ounces

    cream cheese

  • 2

    large eggs

  • Pinch of kosher salt

  • 1/4 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 3/4 cup

    packed dark brown sugar

For the brown sugar boba:


  1. Place 16 ounces cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer. (Alternatively, place in a large bowl if using an electric hand mixer.) Crack 2 large eggs over the cream cheese. Let sit at room temperature until the cream cheese is softened, 20 to 30 minutes.

Make the crust:

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Break 12 graham crackers into rough 2-inch pieces and place in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Process into fine crumbs, about 30 seconds.

  2. Melt 7 tablespoons unsalted butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Add the melted butter to the food processor and pulse to combine, about 5 (1-second) pulses. (Alternatively, place the crackers in a resealable plastic bag, press out the air, and seal. Using a rolling pin, smash into uniform fine crumbs. Transfer to a large bowl, add the melted butter, and mix until evenly combined.)

  3. Transfer the mixture to a 9-inch pie pan (not deep dish) and use the bottom of a measuring cup to carefully press it evenly into the bottom and up the sides. Bake until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool while you make the filling.

Make the filling:

  1. Add a pinch of kosher salt to the cream cheese and eggs and beat on medium-low speed until the mixture is creamy and smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.

  2. Transfer half the mixture to a medium bowl. Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar to that bowl and mix with a rubber spatula until well combined.tablespoon measure into the mixture and set aside.

  3. Add 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar to the remaining cream cheese mixture. Using the same rubber spatula, mix until fully combined, lump-free, and evenly brown in color.

  4. To assemble the pie, alternate dropping tablespoons of the white and brown batters into the crust. Avoid having the same color touch each other too much if possible to create a more distinctive swirl look. Drag a small offset spatula or butter knife first horizontally and then vertically through the batters to create a swirled, marbled pattern.

  5. Bake until the center is just set, 30 to 35 minutes. Place on a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. Chill uncovered in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Make the brown sugar boba:

  1. When ready to serve, make 1/2 cup boba according to the package directions, stirring often to avoid pearls clumping together. Remove from the heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked pearls into a bowl of ice water.

  2. When cooled, drain the boba. Place in a small saucepan, add 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar, and simmer over medium heat until the sugar is melted and syrupy, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

  3. Top the whole pie with the warm boba if you’re planning to eat it right away. Otherwise, keep the boba separate and serve it on each slice. This will make it easier to store and you’ll be able to reheat the boba for any leftovers. Once the boba is cold, it will become hard and will need to be reheated to soften again.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The pie can be made up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated. The boba is best when made fresh.

Storage: Refrigerate the boba and syrup in an airtight container. To reheat, simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat until the boba is soft, about 5 minutes. If the syrup is too thick, add a tablespoon of water a time until desired consistency.