Monday, February 18, 2013

Ice Cream #14: Chai

There's nothing quite like delicious chai tea and it can be enjoyed hot, cold, or in this case, frozen! Sweet and creamy and intensely flavored with aromatic spices, this ice cream is wonderfully comforting.

In India, masala chai is traditionally made through decoction; the spices and loose tea leaves are allowed to steep directly in the milk and sugar mixture before being strained out just prior to serving. The result is much more rich and flavorful than using prepared chai tea bags. 

Ever since I made green tea ice cream, I've been wanting to try other teas in ice cream as well. Chai is a natural choice since it's traditionally prepared sweet and creamy. I find teas make a nice light ice cream with sophisticated flavors. A refreshing cold and spicy treat to enjoy anytime of the year.

Adapted from Bon Appetit, December 2002 & Elise Bauer, Simply Recipes 

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into rounds
2 cinnamon sticks
10 allspice berries
12 whole cloves
6 green cardamom pods
2 tsp. whole black peppercorns 
1 star anise pod
1/4 cup loose black tea (preferably Darjeeling)
5 large egg yolks

Fill a large metal bowl with about 2-inches of ice water. Put a slightly smaller metal bowl inside. Place a fine mesh strainer or sieve over the two bowls and set aside. 

In a medium size saucepan, combine the cream, milk, sugars, salt, ginger, and spices. Stir the mixture well and bring just to a simmer over medium heat. Cover the pan and remove from heat. Allow the spices to steep in the cream mixture for 1 hour. 

Uncover and bring the mixture just to a simmer over medium heat. Add the tea leaves, cover, and remove from heat. Let the tea steep for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks together in a medium bowl and set aside. Place a fine mesh strainer over another medium bowl and pour in the cream mixture to strain out the tea and spices. Wipe the saucepan clean and set aside. 

Slowly pour the warm cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Return the egg and cream mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon or rubber spatula (or when the temperature reaches 170 degrees F on an instant read thermometer).  

Pour the custard through the fine mesh strainer or sieve into the prepared bowls. Stir over the ice bath until the custard is cool. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard and another sheet over the bowl. Refrigerate until until cold, preferably overnight. Process in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Freeze until ready to serve.

Yield: About 1 quart 

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