Last week, my lovely cousin A. came to stay. Being the lovely cousin that she is, she brought us some chai tea as a gift. Thanks A!
We decided to make some chai ice cream, and A. found this recipe at ‘Simply Recipes’. It seemed worthy of attempting.
This is what we did…
1 star anise
10 whole cloves
10 whole allspice
2 cinnamon sticks (I have ‘misplaced’ mine, so I substituted some ground cinnamon)
10 whole white peppercorns
2 cardamom pods, hit with the pestle to open
pinch of salt
¼ cup black tea (I used English Breakfast)
2 cups heavy cream
¾ cup white sugar
6 egg yolks
The recipe says to put all the milk, half the cream and all the spices into a heavy-based saucepan and ‘heat until steamy’. It warns, however, not to let it boil. The recipe then says to: ‘Lower the heat to warm, cover, and let stand for 1 hour’. This seems to imply leaving the stove top turned on, doesn’t it? I instinctively felt that this would be wrong because the milky mixture would boil. I also did not have time to stand and monitor the mixture for an hour, so I covered it, turned the stove off, and left.
When I came back after an hour, the mixture did not really have any flavour. The spices had not imparted their lovely spiceyness into the milk/cream. Perhaps I should have left that stove turned on??
No matter. I just put a heap of extra spice into the milky mixture and reheated it until steamy again.
I then added the tea leaves and let them steep for 5 minutes. After this time, the tea was extremely strong and quite bitter. I was a little worried, but I figured that I still had some more cream, sugar and egg yolks to add, so it may taste ok in the end.
I then strained the spiced milk/cream and returned it to the stove. I added the sugar, and stirred it to dissolve. It dissolved very quickly.
I then created an ice bath using two metal bowls (see original recipe) and put the remaining 1 cup of cream in the icy metal bowl. As per the recipe, I placed a fine strainer over the top.
Next up: mixing the warm spiced milk into the egg yolks. This sounded troublesome, but it wasn’t. I whisked up the egg yolks, and had A. drizzle the milk/cream in slowly while I continued to whisk. I felt stressed that we would scramble the eggs, but we didn’t. Happiness.
Once again, we returned the milky mixture to the saucepan.
Again, I was worried that things would go awry here. It was at this point when making custard for the crema catalanas that my carefully attended brew began to split. However, all that worry was for nought. The mixture coated the back of the spoon almost immediately, and we removed it from the stove. The original recipe has some great pictures illustrating exactly what the mixture should look like at this point. I highly recommend a view if you are a nervous custard maker like myself.
All that was left to do then was to pour the custard through the strainer into the cream sitting in the ice bath, and mix. Easy.
In the interests of expediency, I then put the mixture pretty much straight into the ice cream machine without chilling it. Mistake! It did not turn into ice cream; it remained in a liminal zone somewhere between very soft serve and custard.
This set us back a day. I returned the ice cream machine to the freezer, and chilled it again. I also returned the custard to the fridge and left it overnight.
The next day, I attempted making ice cream again. And….semi-success was had. The mixture was a perfect consistency – very smooth and aerated like bread. However, it just did not want to freeze – even after being left in the freezer for a few days. I wonder if the cream/milk/egg ratio was correct? I feel as though I took care of all other variables: the ice-cream machine bowl was frozen solid at that point and the custard was well chilled.
And the taste? It was pretty good; not perfect. The bitterness of the tea was mitigated by the sugar and the general taste was subtle and not overpowering. However, the spices did not impart a strong flavour. If I made this again, I would infuse them for longer. The balance of cream, sugar and yolks, probably leant a bit far in the cream direction – the ice cream was extremely rich.
I think I will make some more ice cream before I return the machine to its owners. Perhaps something a little lighter, though. Please stay tuned for further adventures in the realm of frozen desserts with Señor *Snowy*…