Saturday, January 21, 2012

Week Three - Chai

I am not a big fan of winter. I mean, sure, I get to wear boots (yay!) and listen to Christmas music (Mariah!) but traipsing around in slushy, dirty snow for three months makes me sad. I long for the days of sandals and short sleeves. The one redeeming factor of the snow day: the excuse to snuggle up on the couch with a cozy blanket and a delicious hot beverage to watch bad TV. I'm talking hot cocoa and Lifetime...a hot toddy and an NCIS marathon...or if you're me, this winter it'll be the terrible-yet-fantastic Hulu original, Misfits (British teenagers with superpowers!), and a tasty chai latte.

I can't remember my life before chai, but I'm certain it was dark. The combination of black tea and spices is a gift to the taste buds; add sugar and milk and you've got yourself a seriously delicious latte. You can take this one step further by adding an additional layer of flavor: vanilla, chocolate, mint. I feel only slightly shameful admitting that I 100% love Dunkin' Donuts' Vanilla Chai Latte, which conjures childhood memories of the Little Debbie's Oatmeal Cream Pie. Yum!

Now that I've regaled you with my winter obsession, let's talk ice cream! We received a book of ice cream recipes as a wedding gift (Thanks, Sean!) and as I perused the pages the other day, this week's flavor was decided immediately as I landed on the page for Chai Ice Cream. I set off to my favorite spice shop to gather some ingredients and began the process. I encountered a few hiccups along the way, which I will note below. I also tried to take more photos this time, after one of my self-proclaimed fans (Hey, brother.) said he'd like to see more of what I'm doing. (Special thanks to my husband for HTML-Nerding-Out to arrange the photos for me!)

I hope you enjoy! Here goes:

Chai Ice Cream (adapted from A Passion for Ice Cream)


5 green cardamom pods
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
4 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks (I used ceylon cinnamon)
1 1/2 tbs loose black tea leaves
1 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, cut into 4 pieces
3 egg yolks
1/8 tsp salt

1. Crush the cardamom pods with a knife and toast in the oven for a few minutes to bring out the flavor.

2. In a saucepan, heat the milk, cream, half the sugar, the spices (see note 1), tea and ginger and cook over medium heat until small bubbles begin to form. Immediately remove from heat and cover, allowing the flavors to steep for 10 minutes or so.

3. In a bowl, whisk the yolks, remaining sugar and the salt. Once steeped, slowly add the hot mixture into the cold mixture, whisking all the while. Return the combined mixture to the saucepan and heat at medium-low, stirring constantly, until mixture lightly coats the back of your spatula.

4. Fill a large bowl with ice and water and rest a smaller bowl on top. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve (see note 2) into the smaller bowl bowl and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. Cover mixture with plastic wrap, making sure to lay wrap directly against the surface to avoid a "skin" from forming, and refrigerate a few hours, or overnight.

5. Transfer cooled mixture into bowl of ice cream maker and churn. Upon completion, transfer to a freezer safe container and freeze.

6. Enjoy! (see note 3)

Note 1: Upon tasting the completed product, I am very unhappy with the flavor profile. If I make this ice cream again, I will change the spice combination by first reducing the cardamom to two or three pods. I also didn't taste enough cinnamon so I'd probably add a bit of ground cinnamon in addition to the sticks. I think I'd also add a couple black peppercorns.

Note 2: Fine-mesh means fine! I used my Crate and Barrel sieve and it let most of the tea leaves through to the ice cream. Luckily, I was able to procure a finer-than-mine mesh sieve to save the mixture before churning. Let me know if you'd like to borrow it!

Note 3: I did not enjoy this ice cream. The noted spice changes might alter that but I also didn't think it was sweet enough. In addition to switching up the spices, I think I might also add a bit more sugar if I were to make this again. I like my ice cream to be more on the sweet side, less on the "Is this egg pudding?" side. Eww.


  1. PIctures and HTML tables FTW! Bummer to hear that the chai ice cream didn't work out well, though—I had high hopes for this one after seeing the title. As a test, it seems like you could make a latte using that combo of spices to see if it's worth drinking.

  2. I know Caitlin was not a fan of this one but I thought it was very tasty. Yes, I was a slob and tried 2 kinds! Being a tea lover, I really enjoyed the spices but would love to try it with more cinnamon too :)

    1. i agree. this was tasty and you are a slob.