Remember the homemade chai concentrate I offered up over the holidays?
I haven’t made it in months. It’s not because I don’t like it anymore — I can’t get enough of the stuff. But with temperatures hovering in the high 70s lately, it’s just too damn hot to think about making chai. It’s the type of thing I make when it’s cold outside and there’s a fire inside, neither of which has been true for the last couple months.
But then I got a new toy in the mail this week — the Cuisinart ICE-21 ice cream maker — and I thought… hmm. I wonder what chai would taste like in ice cream form. Actually, I first wondered what basil would taste like in ice cream form, but my guy wasn’t feeling such an adventurous flavor to christen our new machine, so I decided to take a shot at chai. (Don’t worry, basil fans, basil ice cream will be coming this summer!)
Just two days after I got the Cuisinart, I was enjoying the thickest, creamiest, and most delicious chai ice cream ever… for breakfast. You can substitute chai ice cream for hot chai in the morning, right?
This recipe uses my favorite spices for chai, but feel free to add allspice, peppercorns, nutmeg, mace, vanilla, or any spice you normally like to steep in your chai. It will be fantastic any which way!
Chai Tea Ice Cream
Makes 1 1/2 quarts
2 cups heavy cream, divided
2 cups whole milk
6 bags black tea (Assam, English Breakfast, Earl Grey, or a full-bodied Darjeeling are best)
1-inch piece ginger, sliced into thin coins
3 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks, broken apart
4 whole star anise
1/4 tablespoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon whole cloves
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
The night before, put your ice cream freezer bowl in the freezer.
The day of, gather all your ingredients. I have to admit I love making chai because I love looking at all those beautiful and exotic spices!
Keep 1 cup of heavy cream in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
Combine the other 1 cup of heavy cream with the milk, tea bags, ginger, chai spices, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.
Heat the mixture until it starts to bubble around the edges, but do not let it boil. If it looks like it’s going to boil, remove the saucepan from your stove and adjust the heat.
Once you see bubbles on the surface, lower your heat and steep for about 30 minutes until the chai is well infused with the tea and spices.
Meanwhile, pour the remaining 1 cup of cold heavy cream into a bowl, and place a fine mesh sieve over it.
Remove the chai from heat and strain the mixture into the bowl of heavy cream. I like to press down on the tea bags with a spoon to really get all that wonderful flavor out. Give everything a good stir.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Temper the yolks by pouring a small amount of chai into the bowl and whisking it quickly so you don’t cook the yolks (and end up with scrambled eggs).
Keep adding a small amount of chai at a time and whisk until everything is smooth and well blended. You have now just made your custard base!
Return the custard to your saucepan and heat it through over low heat. Stir the custard until it thickens just enough to coat a spoon, about 5 minutes.
Transfer the custard to a bowl and bring it to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, or overnight.
Once the custard is nice and cold, churn it in your ice cream maker following the manufacturer’s instructions. Mine took about 15 minutes to churn into a thick and creamy texture.
I like my ice cream a bit firmer though, so I scooped it into an airtight container and put it in the freezer for another couple hours. Let me tell you… Those were the longest two hours of my life! I think I opened the freezer door no less than five times to “check” on the ice cream. But after tormenting myself all morning, it was well worth the wait!
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